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JOE talks to Joe Canning about winning, losing and Henry Shefflin
Joe Canning may have won a third All-Star, and a Leinster title, but 2012 will go down as a disappointing year, as he tells JOE.

Joe Canning may have won a third All-Star, and a Leinster title, but 2012 will go down as a disappointing year, as he tells JOE.

JOE: It was a disappointing ending to the year for you. How are you feeling about it now?

Joe Canning: It didn’t immediately hit me as we were straight back into playing for Portumna and then we got knocked out of the county championship. After that the two things doubled up and it wasn’t a great place to be.

JOE:  You have been so successful with Portumna and you’ve had a bullseye painted on your backs for a long time.

Have you found it difficult over the years to go from a completely dominant club team to the Galway inter-county side that were still looking to reach a certain level?

JC: I suppose, but we haven’t been too dominant in the last three years and with Galway we were always there or thereabouts every year.

We always lost by a point or two. I know we lost by ten to Waterford but two years previous to that we lost the quarter-final by just a point and it’s very frustrating as we didn’t perform on those days - It’s frustrating when you lose and you know you have more in you...

This year we had a partly successful year winning the Leinster but failing on the most important days of the year.

JOE: You did win the Leinster Championship – does that medal become diminished given the way the Championship ended?

JC: No I don’t think so.

I think you can look back at it and be happy with what we have achieved this year. We won’t be dwelling on it too long because in a couple of weeks time we will be back training for the Championship next year.

Winning a Leinster final was important for Galway hurling this year as it bypassed a stumbling block we’ve had the past number of years in the quarter-finals and it’s always nice to win a trophy.

I’m not looking past the Leinster semi-final next year. You have to take these things one step at a time and that’s what we did last year. Galway doesn’t have a right to be in the All-Ireland final again or a Leinster final again.

JOE: Have you had a chance to look back at the tape of the All-Ireland final yet and pinpoint where it went wrong? Was it lost in the first or second game when you analyse it?

JC: No to be honest I haven’t looked at it since.

I’ll probably sit down soon and view it. I wasn’t trying focusing on the All-Ireland final after we lost as the club took precedent.

But we have no complaints, on the second day we just weren’t good enough and Kilkenny deserved to win.

JOE: Was there a feeling it got away from you in the first match?

JC: I suppose there was a feeling that we just didn’t perform as well as we could in the second half and we let them back into it. The couple of points we conceded just before the second half to bring it back to five point ball game were probably important, but that’s hurling. The good teams don’t let you out of sight.

We just weren’t good enough the second day.

JOE: What did Anthony Cunningham say to you in the dressing-room after the loss?

JC: I don’t really remember to be honest to you because you’ve just lost – there are not many words that can be said that can console you. You’re in your own world wondering what happened – why did we lose? Why didn’t we perform a little better?

After defeat you don’t take too much in, but we’ll come back again.

JOE: At this remove how do you think the loss in the final will affect Galway? Will it be negative? Or will you have to build-up the momentum that you had going into the final last year?

JC: Yeah I think we have to do the latter. Personally, I’m not looking past the Leinster semi-final next year. You have to take these things one step at a time and that’s what we did last year. Galway doesn’t have a right to be in the All-Ireland final again or a Leinster final again.

It’s going to take an extra bit of work to get there again next year.

Passing on his skills to the next generation

JOE: We all saw in the first match in Croke Park what a great player Henry Shefflin is. You’re often compared to him – are you able to learn anything from him up close? Is he a player you model yourself on in some respects?

JC: Yeah Henry is the best player that has ever played and his nine All-Ireland medals speaks for itself. Everybody models themselves on him because he is the ultimate team player and everyone wants to be like him.

JOE: We’re obviously all watching Henry from the stands or on television, you get a frontline view of him on the field – is he more impressive from close quarters?

JC: He is.

He turned the game around on its head the first day and the second day he was very influential as well. There is no doubt about it – everyone wants to have him on your team and he is probably the best hurler that has ever played the game.

JOE:  You’re still a young player and there’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders in Galway, but did you learn anything about your own game this year?

JC: I suppose I learnt I had to improve a bit more at the very highest level.

There’s certain things about my own performance I wasn’t happy about and the statistics are there... I didn’t touch the ball in the All-Ireland final for however many minutes.

There’s no point in being content with where are you and I have to improve myself to give whatever I can to the panel and the team and everyone in Galway.

JOE: You’re speaking to us as an ambassador for the Opel Kits for Clubs campaign –how important is it for local GAA clubs that initiatives like this are supported?

JC: It’s important especially to get kids involved. You can ask any inter-county player and they’ll say their club is everything to them – there’s no doubt about that.

These initiatives get kids interacting with each other and playing and this gets them gear to get going and get playing.

The Kits for Clubs initiatives is so vital to get kids out about playing and getting healthy – that’s what it is all about.

JOE: Thanks for your time Joe.

JC: No hassle lads.

For information on Kit for Clubs logon to: www.opelkitforclubs.com or visit Opel’s Kit for Clubs Facebook page: www.facebook.com/opelkitforclubs

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