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Joe Canning confident knee injury will clear up before championship starts

The Portumna man was unusually absent for his club recently.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JOE CANNING IS confident that the knee problem which last weekend caused him to miss his first game for Portumna through injury since he made his debut 12 years ago will not be a factor for Galway’s opening game in the championship in just over five weeks.

The triple All-Star has never missed a match through injury since he made his debut as a 15-year-old, but was forced to sit out Portumna’s 2-13 to 0-16 win at the weekend over last year’s runners-up Craughwell.

The injury ended his remarkable run of games with Portumna — he did miss one group game through suspension — which has seen him pick up five Galway SHC titles and four All-Ireland club titles since he burst onto the scene as a teenager.

But Canning said that while he is not sure if he will be back this weekend when they take on Ardrahan, it is not a serious injury and shouldn’t have any impact when Galway open their Leinster championship campaign.

Galway do not know who they will face in that game on 5 June as they await to play the winner of the round robin series involving Offaly, Westmeath, Carlow and Kerry.

“It’s just a small cartilage issue that I had in my knee,” Canning says. “It is the first time I have missed a club game through injury since I started, 12 years ago. It’s a bit unusual but the boys got on okay without me. We were really written off going into the game, and they put up a super performance. To us it meant a lot to win the game, in just the circumstances.

“I am hoping to be back this weekend. I went for a bit of a jog so if I don’t feel any ill-effects throughout the rest of the week I should be okay.

“It’s only just the wear and tear more so than anything. We will have a lot of club action over the next few weeks so hopefully we won’t pick up any injuries,” said the 27-year-old.

Canning, speaking at the launch of the newly refurbished Life Style Sports store in the Galway Retail Park, said that while Galway were disappointed to be relegated in the national league, all their attention was now on getting ready for another assault on the championship, having come so close to winning it for the first time since 1988 when they were beaten in the final by Kilkenny.

And Canning acknowledged that the reigning All-Ireland champions are still the team to beat this year — and warned that Brian Cody’s men would be all the more hungry having lost the national league semi-final to Clare.

“You would be a fool to think that the semi-final performance is going to reflect anything on the rest of the year. Everybody has one of those days where it just doesn’t go right for them. It’s probably bad for the rest of us that it was a league semi-final, and not an All-Ireland semi-final or final.


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“They are going to learn from that and be better the next day. It is a bit like 2012 in the Leinster final when we played them. And then they were better throughout the year after that. Every team is going to fear Kilkenny, there is no point in saying otherwise.”

Joe Canning, Matt Healy and Armin Aganovic Galway hurler Joe Canning, Connacht's Matt Healy and Galway footballer Armin Aganovic. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But Canning believes that Galway will again be hot on Kilkenny’s heels in a championship race where he reckons at least half a dozen teams will fancy their chances.

“We are looking forward to it. We didn’t get to the All-Ireland last year because we were a bad team so we are looking forward to it, and hopefully it will be a good year for us.

“But, for sure, everybody respects everybody else. I don’t think any player trains so much and puts in so much of an effort for seasons, or even for this year alone, to not think that they can win an All-Ireland.

“Everybody believes that they can win, and obviously it is only going to be one team. But I certainly believe that we have a chance of winning. I am sure the Clare lads, the Tipperary lads, the Cork lads and so on have a belief that they can win it. It’s up for grabs for everybody throughout the year.

“You look at Clare in 2013. They got the momentum. It was a funny year, that Tipperary or Kilkenny at that time were probably the two big teams in the country. They didn’t have to meet them along the way either. Everything fell into place for them that year.

“But at the same time, it’s all to play for, any team. You have Waterford now again coming, and you have Limerick as well who will only become better as the season goes on. There are six or seven teams, you just don’t know. Championship is championship, and every year is different. I think it will be a great championship and I can’t wait for it to start,” added Canning.

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