Canning can't understand criticism of high scores in hurling
By John Harrington
Galway’s Joe Canning has little time for anyone who suggests that it has become too easy to score at the highest level of hurling.
The average score of Allianz League and inter-county championship matches has been on a steady uptick for a few years now, but Canning sees this as a positive rather than something to be concerned about.
His attitude is that people should celebrate the skill of the players who are raising the bar every year rather than complain how the game is evolving.
“People talk about the 2014 All-Ireland final, the drawn match, as one of the best games that we've ever seen,” says Canning.
“Do you remember the score in that? 3-22 to 1-28. Do you know what I mean? That's 31 points each. People say that was one of the best games ever, and that's a high scoring game.
“That was back seven years ago now. It's kind of a thing that somebody might say it, and then everybody jumps on the bandwagon and goes 'yeah, yeah, yeah, it's getting too crazy, the scores'.
“And then there was another thing about the frees being too much. But nobody reported then, against Waterford, I think I only hit four frees. Against Cork yesterday, I think Evan only hit seven frees or something like that, roughly.
“That's not too many frees. But nobody has said the free-count has come down in the last two weeks. All they're talking about is there's too many frees.
“Perception is sometimes skewed in a way that it wants to be skewed. I think when you do facts, it's the same about the ball, everybody is saying the ball is way too light, 'the ball is too light, we need to make it heavier'.
“When in fact, it's almost the same weight as it was back in 2005. There was nothing said about it then. Even when Diarmuid O'Sullivan scored that point from over 100 yards back in the early 2000s, that was supposedly one of the best scores ever, the ball wasn't too light back then. So people can be funny sometimes with how they see things.
“We should be nearly celebrating the skills because it's not an easy thing to do, hit the ball on the run from 70 yards out and over the bar. It's not easy.
“But players are so skilful now that they make it look easy and I think we take some things for granted, maybe, if things happen regularly now. That's just the skill and dedication of the players, that they're putting in the hours to train and be good at striking off left and right.”
Canning doesn’t agree either that it has become too easy for the best free-takers in the game to convert long-range frees.
He argues the fact that they’re able to do so is down to their own dedication to their craft which, again, he believes people should laud rather than bemoan.
“Even when you look at the frees, there's a lot of things in that,” he says. "There's a wind in that as well. That's a skill.
“I'd be worried if everybody could do it. But not everybody can do those kind of things. I remember last year, we played Tipperary down in the Gaelic Grounds, and I was hitting a 65 into the Caherdavin side.
“And I had to take a run-up, take a step back because the wind was so much. But then on the other side, the wind was going the other way. Things like that come into play in different situations, in different games.
"So I think we need to be more positive about it. Maybe it's just Covid or whatever, that people are getting negative about stuff. People seem to give out about things a bit more lately than they ever did. So try and look at the positives.
“Take it for what it is and try and enjoy it. I think with crowds coming back, that will add to the whole thing as well. Why look for the negative always, and try and change things when there's no real need to do it? We have one of the fastest field sports in the world. Why not enjoy it while we have it?”
Canning missed Galway’s victory over Cork on Sunday with a thumb injury but is confident he’ll be fit to play in the Leinster semi-final against Dublin or Antrim on July 3.
“It's just kind of an old injury, a bit of ligament damage,” said Canning.
“Just in a kind of a splint there for two weeks, and I'll be fine then again. I'll be fine in two weeks' time, just a bit of rest more-so than anything.”