A Very Canning Plan

If you had a sliotar in your hand and you had to choose one man to win an All Ireland semi final, well who would you choose? Johnny Coen knew who to choose. Joe Canning.

You were asked to do one job Joe and you did it. On this occasion the Portumna man delivered. As he has time and again for Galway GAA. Can this be his year?

In his earlier career there were crushing pressures on Joe Canning's young shoulders. A one man scoring machine for too many years, he carried the weight of the Tribe on his broad shoulders. The teammates around him seemed over reliant on the young star.

Playing around a forward slot he is adept at finding the small pockets of space to do his work, striking scores like the audacious beauty that won Sunday's game with less than thirty seconds of injury time left on the clock.

Before he was expected to win his own ball playing at full forward. Joe was given one job to do. And often he did but with Galway unearthing and polishing a few attacking diamonds, the luxury of playing Joe in a more creative role became possible.

He didn't have it easy on Sunday, an early free ricocheted off the upright at the canal end while both Joe and Seamie Callanan had mixed fortunes with their frees. Before half time he dozed Pauric Maher over the sideline and pointed the resulting sideline.

It’s a measure of Joe’s strength and his courage under pressure that he stuck to his guns and delivered when it mattered. The trademark Canning repertoire of skills were in full view. Sideline cut pinged over the bar, a pressure free from a difficult angle and that nerveless finish from under the Cusack stand to win the game.

One of the abiding images of the day was Joe Canning meeting his parents immediately after the final whistle. He has repeatedly referenced the importance of his family and commented recently on the fact his parents health had upon him. As the Sawdoctors said, to win just once would be great. Who knows what might follow?

The difference between the Canning of a few years back is that he is surrounded by a team full of attacking talent with a rock-solid spine led yesterday by Gearóid McInerney and Daithi Burke. Immense. Who would begrudge Joe an All Ireland senior medal next month?