Canning also defied doctor's orders
Two of Galway’s top players went against medical advice to play in Sunday’s final, writes GAVIN CUMMISKEY
THE GALWAY hurling management went against medical advice by sending James Skehill and Joe Canning on to the field for Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling final replay.
Selector Mattie Kenny admitted yesterday if it wasn’t an All-Ireland final neither player would have played.
“No, Joe wouldn’t have started, neither would James. It was such a big match.”
What about the Leinster final or All-Ireland semi-final?
“If it was a league match they wouldn’t have started,” said Kenny. “Leinster finals, All-Ireland semi-finals, All-Ireland finals are big matches. You’ve got to get your best players out on the pitch and these guys have got to make themselves available.”
Skehill said in yesterday’s Irish Times he failed Saturday’s fitness test, having badly dislocated an already troublesome left shoulder on Friday night.
However, the decision to field Canning, Galway’s undisputed star player, despite damaging knee ligaments in training 10 days before the replay, seems justified as he registered nine points, two from play and a trademark sideline cut, and almost turned the contest Galway’s way with a shot that rebounded off the butt of the post on 47 minutes. At the time, Galway trailed by three points, 1-13 to 2-7.
Kilkenny registered the next five points to kill off any hint of a contest.
“Joe had ligament damage on the side of the knee,” Kenny explained. “He just picked it up training about 10 days ago and hadn’t trained since.
“Our medical team, Dr Dan Murphy and Jerry Reilly, our physio, and the clinic in Galway, had to work very hard to get him ready for that game. We were delighted he was able to start for us and he managed to come through.
“Credit to Joe for going through all that dedication and making himself available for the game. He still made a valuable contribution to the game. He scored nine or 10 points. Under the circumstances he performed very well.”
But the decision to play Skehill backfired. The 24-year-old goalkeeper had no use of his catching (left) arm, as seen from his decision to bat down and kick away the first ball that came his way. And Skehill could only parry away an initial Eoin Larkin shot which led directly to Richie Power scoring the first Kilkenny goal from the rebound.
He was also fortunate not to concede a penalty by bundling into Walter Walsh after being unable to stoop for another bat down.
The player even indicated to the line the need to be replaced “seven, eight minutes” before the interval but the management asked him to stay on. He announced in the dressingroom at half-time that he could not continue and was replaced by Fergal Flannery.
“As the first half was wearing on it was very evident James was in pain,” Kenny continued. “I thought he did very well in goals in the circumstances. He dislocated his shoulder on Friday night and 40 hours later to go out in an All-Ireland final was a big ask and a lot of credit is due to him for doing that.”
Kenny did not believe the decision to play Skehill lost Galway the match.
“There were key turning points in the game, I felt. It is well documented now: the disallowed goal, the ball that came off the post, the (Cyril Donnellan) sending off and Kilkenny came up the field and got a few scores and really drove on.”
Kenny had yet to see a replay of Donnellan striking JJ Delaney so was unable to comment on the red card but regarding Donnellan’s disallowed goal on 43 minutes, when referee James McGrath had already blown for a Galway free, which Canning pointed to make it a four-point deficit rather than two points, he said: “Even if he had the whistle blown momentarily before that, the goal should be allowed to stand. It was a perfectly legitimate goal. Pulling it back for a free is no advantage to anybody. If you blow the whistle a split second earlier I feel the goal should stand.”