Canning takes aim at Shefflin conduct

GALWAY’S JOE Canning believes that Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin was guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct in last Sunday’s All-Ireland…

GALWAY’S JOE Canning believes that Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin was guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct in last Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling final.

And Canning insisted the Cats were handed “very easy frees” by referee Barry Kelly in the Croke Park showpiece.

Canning admitted Kilkenny are a bit “cuter” when it comes to dealing with officials on the field of play and he referenced a first-half incident when Shefflin ran “30 or 40 yards down the field” to remonstrate with Kelly.

Canning, who converted a free in the third minute of stoppage time to tie the game, also revealed how his direct opponent JJ Delaney was unhappy with Shefflin’s decision to take a point from a 68th-minute penalty.


Canning, 23, was speaking to reporters yesterday at Semple Stadium in Thurles at an event to promote Saturday’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland Under-21 hurling finals.

And he stoked the fires ahead of the eagerly-awaited senior rematch with Kilkenny on September 30th by admitting: “I suppose they are a bit cuter. In one instance in the first half, Henry ran 30 or 40 yards down the field and was giving out to Barry Kelly and Damien Hayes for a free.

“That’s not sportsmanlike either at the same stage. That’s the way it goes – that’s probably the experience they have. Hopefully we can get that and use it to our advantage as well. You need everything you can get during those games.”

Canning also admitted he mishit the late equalising free that ensured a replay between the sides on September 30th.

He said: “I kind of mishit the last one, to be honest, I didn’t mean to hit it that low. There were three Kilkenny players in front of me, it was lucky enough it went over.”

Canning said he did not see the controversial late award, when Kilkenny defender Jackie Tyrrell was penalised for a tangle with Galway substitute Davy Glennon.

He said: “I don’t know – to be straight up about it I didn’t see it. I was over the far side, in at full-forward. I didn’t actually watch the match since.

“I don’t know – obviously I’ve read papers and stuff. Some people say it wasn’t a free and others say that it was. You get stuff during a match as well – when they got a ball moved forward 15 yards and the same thing happened in the second half with the same players involved, and it didn’t get moved for us and we could have been in for a score.

“You get them things during a match. I thought, on the field, sometimes they influenced frees and stuff like that. So they got very easy frees during the game as well. We’re happy enough, if it was an easy free, to take it.”

And Canning lifted the lid on Kilkenny defender Delaney’s reaction to Shefflin’s 68th-minute point, when the eight-time All-Ireland medallist put the ball over the bar when a goal would have put the champions three points clear.

When Canning was asked if he thought that Shefflin was about to go for the jugular as he stood over the penalty, he replied: “Yeah I thought he was.

“JJ wasn’t too impressed anyway behind me! He thought he should have went for it as well. People asked me after what I would have done. I probably would have went for a point as well because at that time of the game, a point was very crucial. If he missed it, people would said why didn’t he tap it over the bar.

“It’s a very thin line and he’s probably the most experienced player on the pitch. At the time, he thought it was the right thing to do. If it was saved and we went down the pitch and got a point or a goal, it could have swung things in our favour. He probably took the right decision at that time in the match.”

Canning added: “He probably would have went for it himself. ‘I’ll just put it that way!’”

On his own late equalising free Canning admitted he had “massive doubts” before standing up to convert.

He had missed a similar chance just a few minutes earlier and he said: “Obviously you have doubts and I had massive doubts from missing the one before but that’s part and parcel of it as well.

“That’s the one I think of more than the one I scored, how the outcome might have been different, but then you never know, if you’d got the first one you mightn’t have got the chance for the second one, so you never know.”

Canning went on: “You’re just trying to concentrate on getting the lift right, getting the strike right. I’ve had the same routine for years, since you’re young every free-taker has the same routine, maybe tweaks it or whatever but you have to trust it, no matter what. That’s all I was concentrating on, hoping not to have everyone in Galway after my head afterwards!”

Canning also admitted that he did not enjoy the experience of a first All-Ireland SHC final because of the huge pressures involved.

He stated: “I think when you’re out on the field, you don’t enjoy it. It’s not a place to enjoy it – you enjoy it after the match if you win and obviously you don’t enjoy it if you lose. But when you’re playing in such a high-intensity game, mentally more so than anything, the mistakes and stuff are costing you that extra point or two in a match, you don’t enjoy those things.

“And anybody that says , I personally don’t believe them if they say they enjoy playing a match like that.

“It’s a thing you look back on and say, yeah, I’ve played in it but at the end of the day, you want to do your best and it’s like training, when you’re training as hard as you can, you don’t enjoy running them laps or anything like that.

“It’s the same as a match – when it’s high intensity, you don’t enjoy that.”

Canning was also pleased with the performance of referee Kelly, insisting that every hurler deserves the freedom to express himself on the field of play.

He said: “Everybody is protected on the field. Nobody goes out to hurt another player or anything like that, or do anything stupid. At the end of the day, you go out to hurl and everybody is the same.

“That was the way it was on Sunday. Everybody went out just to hurl their own patch and that’s the way it should be.”