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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Joe Canning's inter-county days are over.
# say it ain't so joe
Joe Canning: 'I would still love to be playing inter-county, but would I be able for it? No."
Canning hopes last weekend’s win over Kilkenny can be a watershed moment for the team.

JOE CANNING ADMITS he’d love to be playing for Galway under golfing buddy Henry Shefflin but acknowledges his injury ravaged body simply wouldn’t be able for it.

The 2017 All-Ireland winner and Hurler of the Year, 33, confirmed his retirement last July in advance of Kilkenny great Henry Shefflin becoming Tribesmen chief.

Canning revealed that the two hurling icons were actually supposed to play golf together at the prestigious Adare Manor resort on the morning after Shefflin was installed as Galway manager – but Shefflin mysteriously withdrew a couple of days beforehand.

It soon became crystal clear why Shefflin couldn’t tee it up on the bucket list course and, weeks later, he contacted Canning about potentially coming out of retirement.

Speaking at the launch of the 2022 Bord Gais Energy Legends Tour Series, Canning said that it would have been ‘kind of cool’ to play for Shefflin but admitted his body couldn’t handle it.

“That’s the reality of it,” said Canning. “Of course I would still love to be playing inter-county, there is no doubt about that but realistically would I be able for it? No.”

Asked if his body is stronger now after parking inter-county hurling and giving himself some rest, the Portumna wizard shook his head.

“Not really,” he said. “I have been recovering. I tore the tendon in my groin off my pubic bone again, the same injury I did in ’19 except on the opposite side. I am only getting back hurling in the last couple of weeks so I missed all the championship with the club last year.

henry-shefflin-and-joe-canning James Crombie / INPHO King Henry and The Joe Show. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“So am I better? I’m probably not. I done my hamstring in ’16, my left groin tendon in ’19 and my right groin tendon last year so that’s three tendon injuries in the last number of years so that is pretty banjaxed as they go, so if I get another year or two at club level I’d be happy enough.

“My knee is still at me. I had an operation at the end of ’17 on the knee and that is still at me. All those little things don’t just clear up because you are finished, they probably get worse because you are so well looked after at inter-county level.”

Canning, part of the Galway minor management this season, is still keeping a close eye on his former senior colleagues.

He is hoping last weekend’s dramatic Leinster SHC win over Kilkenny was a watershed moment which can elevate the team onto a new level of performance and consistency after a patchy few months under King Henry.

“You don’t know, you just don’t know,” said Shefflin. “Like, who is to say they won’t lose the next two games and then you go back and say, ‘Was the Kilkenny game the moment (they took off) or not?’ But I do think they needed that game, especially after the Wexford game where they should have closed it out and those frees at the end where we got the free taken off Conor Cooney and they took longer over their last free to equalise. They needed that game against Kilkenny, to get that win, especially at home. You need to win your home games.”

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bord-gais-energy-2022-legends-virtual-tour-series Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE Canning at launch of Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour series at Croke Park. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

On the frosty post-match exchange in Salthill between Shefflin and his old Kilkenny ally Brian Cody, whom Shefflin won 10 All-Irelands under, Canning shrugged.

“Brian is a winner, there is no doubt about that,” said Canning. “It was often said to me before when I was playing, another inter-county manager actually said to me, ‘Nice guys win f-all’. So you have to be ruthless. He (Cody) did not win all those All-Irelands with Kilkenny being a nice guy and it was a difficult situation obviously, with their history of coaching Henry, and Henry being against his native county so, it is what it is. He lost a Championship game, that’s life. I would not read too much into it.”

Canning had his own take too on the analysis of the late free which allowed Conor Cooney to strike the winning point. Tom Monaghan was adjudged to have been fouled by Kilkenny’s Paddy Deegan though Sunday Game pundits Shane Dowling and Derek McGrath suggested it should have been acceptable for Deegan to take ‘man, ball and all’ without being penalised.

“I found it hilarious that…now I didn’t see the Sunday Game, I don’t really watch it, but I heard it back that Shane Dowling and Derek McGrath said it wasn’t a free because he got man, ball and all,” said Canning.

“If you get the man, is that not a free? It didn’t make sense what they were saying to me. Any time you go through the back of a player it was a free, to be straight up about it.

“And if it was the opposite way, you’d have to hold up your hand and say, ‘Yeah, it was a free’. But at the end of the day, if you get man, ball and all, nine times out of 10 it is a free, no?”

* The Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour series, which start on Saturday 28 May, will feature Joe Canning, Cora Staunton as well as a host of legends from across the GAA world. Bord Gáis Energy customers will get the exclusive opportunity to attend all tours throughout the summer. The full schedule and details of how to book your place on a tour can be viewed at crokepark.ie/legends
Originally published at 13.28

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