Joe Canning racing to be fit for Leinster hurling championship
He underwent surgery on his groin after taking a heavy hit in the league semi-final
Galway’s Joe Canning will aim to return at some stage in the Leinster championship. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Not for the first time Ollie Canning is being gently pressed for news on his younger brother. The problem is no one is exactly sure when Joe Canning will be back playing hurling for Galway this summer, the only certainty for now being the loss is incalculable.
Canning underwent surgery on his groin after taking a heavy hit in the league semi-final defeat to Waterford on March 24th, the initial diagnosis being a 14-16 week recovery period: right now the older Canning brother can’t add a whole lot more.
“Joe was going very well this year in the league to be fair to him,” says Canning. “There’s never a good time to get a long term injury like that. It must be very frustrating for him, very disappointing, especially at this stage when you have got a lot of work done early in the year and the hard slogging done and training from the start of the year.
“Once he got his head around the injury, he just needs to focus his energy now on trying to get the rehab and the recovery as best as possible. I was asked earlier about the time scales. After surgery there’s no rehab going on you just have to let the thing settle down so there’s no rehab for the next couple of weeks and after that you’ll have a better idea as to whether it will be 14 weeks, 16 weeks, but I’d say he’ll be aiming for some time around the end of the Leinster championship, I imagine.”
Part of the worry is Canning’s position in the Galway team is so unique, if not irreplaceable: “It’s very difficult. Joe has a certain way of playing and it’s hard to compare it. Micheál Donoghue will have to look at what’s there. Could you look at the league and pick somebody off the top of your head based on league performances and pick six forwards? I don’t think you could. So it will be difficult for Micheál to rearrange their team.
“Conor Cooney would probably be a starter too and he might not be available but the chance is there for someone to come into the team and try and nail down a starting spot for themselves. It could go either way, Galway will still give themselves a great chance of coming out of Leinster and that’s all Micheál will be concerned about. Sometimes you have to say the injuries are the injuries and now we need to see who is going well at training and he’s said that every year, the lads playing well at training will get the start, and I’d imagine it won’t be any different.”
In the meantime Canning expects the Leinster championship to be more open than ever: “Joseph Cooney has returned for Galway. Johnny Glynn I think is due to come back but I’m not sure on that. Galway haven’t shown that much in the league. They weren’t really shooting the lights out but it does appear the Leinster championship is very even at the moment.
“Kilkenny probably will get a bounce from a couple of the Ballyhale Shamrocks boys back into that team and they’ll be a big advantage to Kilkenny going forward. But it’s difficult to pick the top three teams from the four that you’d imagine will be there, Dublin, Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway.
“Dublin were close to having a couple of results go their way last year and were unlucky at times so I’m looking forward to Dublin against Kilkenny. If Dublin can lay down a marker at the start of the Leinster championship in that game it’s anyone’s at that stage. For sure one team won’t be in the top three and they’ll be very disappointed.”
Fintan Burke also damaged his cruciate knee ligaments in the AIB All-Ireland club hurling final playing for his club St Thomas, and will miss the rest of the season.