Joe Canning conflicted over touchy subject of players reporting injury
Galway star perplexed after serious groin injury was initially reported as a ‘dead leg’
Joe Canning: “In the last three years we have played 20 championship matches and we’ve lost two. So when you look at it that way, it’s frustrating not to still be involved.” Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
It’s clearly a touchy subject and Joe Canning is not alone either in his apparent conflict of concern over the reporting of player injuries.
Galway’s 2017 All-Ireland winner missed almost the entire championship after sustaining a groin injury in the league quarter-final defeat to Waterford, returning to play some part in the last round-robin game in Leinster against Dublin, only for the defeat to ultimately end their season.
Reflecting on that period before and since, Canning said he knew straightaway the injury was serious: the problem was that one local journalist in Galway reported it as a “dead leg”; instead, he required surgery on the far more serious groin tear.
“I was aware of it alright,” he said.
“So a piece of the bone came off, the pubic bone, and that was basically it. I kind of went through it before with the hamstring, so this was a bit worse alright because you can’t walk, really. I had no power in my leg, even, to just lift it.
“You could kind of walk with the hamstring for some reason, I don’t know, I’m not 100 per cent sure of the logistics of it. But yeah, I knew straightaway.”
In the meantime, however, there was still uncertainty after the full extent of the injury: “It’s not frustrating personally. It’s just frustrating the way we went out. It doesn’t bother me in a way because I know the real reason.
“It was just somebody trying to make a headline, trying to get ahead of somebody else and be the first. It’s all about in this world of being first, of Tweeting about it and writing about it and being the first person to have it.
“I obviously had to get scans and stuff and get medical advice on it. For a reporter to know something before I actually knew myself was a bit strange. I think that’s why we just had to clarify it, more so than anything. It’s not that it broke anybody’s back or stuff like that.”
There is also the issue of confidentiality. After their All-Ireland football quarter-final draw with Kerry, Donegal manager Declan Bonner was asked about the fitness of full-back Neil McGee, one of the players omitted from the published team, and the reply was blunt.
“I’m not going to talk about injuries, sorry.”
Rugby international Conor Murray has also made it his business not to disclose the nature of his injuries at the time. Canning appeared to see both sides.
“It’s freedom of choice, isn’t it? Like, are we public property? Some people may say yes and some people may say no. Like, just because you play hurling, if you had the injury would there be someone coming up asking you would you feel the same way of letting everyone in the world know?
“So you probably have to look at things from both sides. In our instance, we did say it was a groin injury straight after the game so until we knew exactly what it was why would we comment and say it was something when it could have been something else.
“You just need to give people time and we did, we said it a week later when I did get the surgery. It’s going back to that thing about being first. People have to rush in and they want to be the story teller.
“So until we knew exactly what it was, why would we comment and say something and it could have been something else?”
Canning never doubted his return; speaking as an ambassador for the Bord Gáis Energy under-20 hurling championship, the only worry was how quick he could make it back.
“I like to try and prove people wrong in whatever I do, so there wasn’t any stage where I thought to myself, ‘I’ll never play again’. I normally recover quickly anyway from injuries for some reason, I don’t know. It’s like anything, if you break a finger they give you whatever, six weeks. I got 14-16 weeks and I got back in about 10. I didn’t do anything that I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I was just following the protocol.”
No regrets on Galway’s season either: “In the last three years we have played 20 championship matches and we’ve lost two. So when you look at it that way, it’s frustrating not to still be involved, but that’s the way it goes and you just have to accept it.”
On a separate front, Canning called for a return to the September All-Ireland final Sunday, pointing out the Galway hurling championship was still stalled until August 17th.
“ The only reason I can fathom is that there’s guys gone to America for the summer, and clubs won’t hurl without them. Even from a marketing perspective, if you want kids to play sport, have it as much of the year as you can.”