Joe Canning says ‘hurling is in a good place’ despite negativity

‘I don’t know if it’s Covid or what, but I think people love to give out a little bit more’

Galway’s Joe Canning  at the launch of the second series of Bord Gáis Energy’s GAAGAABox, which features the most passionate hurling fans across the country filmed in their front rooms. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Galway’s Joe Canning at the launch of the second series of Bord Gáis Energy’s GAAGAABox, which features the most passionate hurling fans across the country filmed in their front rooms. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

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The numbers are simply too high and maybe the restrictions just aren’t enough, and if things keep going the way they’re going there is the potential for real disaster, whatever exact form that might take.

Joe Canning doesn’t name check anyone, only hints at a sort of Sam McConkey character of current hurling observation, as in those who say the high scores and high free count is damaging to the game, needs urgent attention.

The five-time All Star and 2017 All-Ireland winner with Galway calls for a little more sense and restraint.

“I think hurling is in a good place,” Canning said at a Bord Gáis Energy promotional event. “There’s been a lot of talk the last few weeks about too many frees, but then nothing reported the last two weekends. When we played against Waterford, I scored four frees. I think we had six or seven frees Evan [Niland] scored yesterday [Sunday]. So that’s 11 frees in two games and I’ve heard nothing about the low amount of frees. But when it’s the high frees, it’s the negative.

“I don’t know if it’s Covid or what, but I think people love to give out a little bit more in the last couple of months, they’re always looking for the negative more so than anything, And it’s guys back from the 80s and 90s who are being interviewed, and I don’t know if they’re up to speed either with today’s game.

“I even heard about the high scoring, something last week, from a guy who played in the 2014 All-Ireland final, which is considered one of the best matches ever, the drawn game, which I think was 3-22 to 1-28. Nobody gave out about the score in that, and now they’re giving out that we’re getting 30 points now. When that game was 31 points apiece.

“I just think there’s a little too much negativity, and everyone has an opinion now, and going with something that someone influential says, we’re all going with that. Try and look at the positives. What’s wrong with high scores? Remember when Diarmuid O’Sullivan scored a point from his own 45, years ago, and that’s considered one of the best scores, is always being shown. Now if a guy scores that, or two or three guys, it’s like ‘we can’t have that happening’.”

Canning is nursing an injured thumb on his right hand, plus a few bruised ribs, but is expected to be fully fit come the championship. In his last championship match he ended up in the Mater Hospital after a taking heavy tackle from Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty, and after all these years is also well positioned to comment on the physicality of the current game.

“If you asked a lot of players, the physicality is still there. I’m still sore from two weeks ago, against Waterford. I think it’s very important to have crowds at the games, people underestimate that. When that bounces back it will add again to even a sense of physicality, but it’s still there, ask any of the players. It mightn’t look like that to some of the lads who played back in the day.”

The 2021 league title will either be shared or decided between Galway and Kilkenny, should they meet in the championship: “Everyone would love a final, for a national title, and it’s a little frustrating we didn’t get another game, but who am I to argue against what the GAA decide? There is still a chance it will happen anyway.”

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