'I think it’s so much weight off his shoulders. The pressure was on, he’s only a young lad.'

David Collins tips his hat towards his Galway teammate Joe Canning.

David Collins and Joe Canning celebrate Galway's 2012 Leinster final win.
David Collins and Joe Canning celebrate Galway's 2012 Leinster final win.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

AS SENIOR ENTRANCES go, his was spectacular.

Joe Canning arrived on the intercounty stage shouldering the burden of heavy expectation as a result of his underage exploits with Galway and his club exploits with Portumna.

When he dipped his toes into senior championship waters in the summer of 2008, he made quite a splash.

Galway bowed out in July against Cork but Canning bagged 2-12 in a sensational showing.

Source: Eoin Larkin/YouTube

That was the initial offering but his fortunes have fluctuated with Galway’s ever since, the highs of victories and Allstars mixed with the lows of defeats and setbacks.

As the Galway pursuit of Liam MacCarthy has dragged on, the spotlight glare on Canning has grown ever more intense.

He’s still central to the cause with an All-Ireland final beckoning next Sunday but there have been persuasive signs that Galway are a more rounded attacking force now.

“Joe Canning was the Joe Show, but we have now have 7 or 8 forwards that can go in and perform to the best,” says Galway’s David Collins.

David Collins Galway's David Collins. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“You take the Cork example, he had 6 wides, or 8 wides I think it was and we still won the game by 13 points.

“I think it’s so much weight off his shoulders. The pressure was on, he’s only a young lad.

“He has carried it with fair distinction too. He has carried Galway through a lot of games

“It’s like he’s been there 20 years, so at least he can hurl away now to his own. That whole thing has changed now which is fantastic. We just need to carry it over the line really.”

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Jason Flynn celebrates a score Jason Flynn celebrates a point against Cork Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Three of the Galway forwards – Jason Flynn, Conor Whelan, and Cathal Mannion and Shane Maloney – that started against Tipperary are U21′s while the super scoring sub that day Shane Maloney is 22.

Canning may still be Galway’s 2015 top championship scorer but he’s got assistance:

Galway scorers

  • Joe Canning 4-47 (0-23f, 0-4 ’65)
  • Cathal Mannion 3-20
  • Jason Flynn 2-29 (0-9f)

Shane Moloney celebrates scoring the winning point in injury time Shane Moloney celebrates scoring the winning point in injury-time for Galway against Tipperary with Conor Whelan Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Next Sunday will be Galway’s tenth All-Ireland minor hurling final appearance in 15 years and they’ve featured in six U21 finals in the same time frame.

That’s provided a conveyor belt of talented forwards but it’s been difficult for those to make a mark. How have these youngsters have made such an impact?

“I think the set-up is better what they are coming into. They are not coming in there and given the jersey because years ago it was guaranteed a jersey,” says Collins.

“(We’ve) leaders all over the field. It’s a different set-up but more is expected.

Andrew Smith Galway's Andy Smith Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“As older players, myself and Andy Smith and those boys are actually demanding we get more off these players and that’s what we needed. 

“That wasn’t there years ago.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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