Canning hails record-breaker David Burke
By John Harrington
Joe Canning has paid tribute to his former team-mate, David Burke, who is set to eclipse him at the top of the all-time Galway hurling championship appearance list on Saturday.
Both are currently on 62 championship appearances, but Burke should move to 63 this weekend if, as expected, he plays against Cork in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-final.
“It's about time for him,” said Canning at the launch of Bord Gáis Energy’s ‘State of Play’ campaign. “He's a huge player for Galway, there's no doubt about that. I think he's probably the best hurling brain I've played with. I think he's so smart to see things happening before anybody else.
“He obviously looks after himself very well. He loves hurling, he absolutely loves it. But the one thing that I think he has is a brilliant hurling brain. When he's on the ball, nine times out of 10 he'll do the right thing with it. He sees things before they happen. And in midfield he can see danger happening before anybody else around him.
“He's a very good communicator too. He's played 99% of his hurling in midfield and he just looks after himself really well and I think because of his hurling brain he's well able to look after himself on a hurling pitch as well.”
Galway didn't hurl to their full potential in the Leinster SHC Final defeat to Kilkenny, but Canning expects them to raise their level against Cork.
“You'd be very hopeful,” he said. “I think they were going in the right way up until the Leinster Final. If they had gotten a goal or two in the first half when they did create chances it could have been a completely different game and we'd be sitting here talking about Kilkenny playing in the quarter-final.
“I think they were going nicely up until the Leinster Final and it was just one of those days that something didn't click for them. You'd be hoping that there'll be a kick in the lads. They'll want to show that the Leinster Final performance wasn't what the actual team are capable of. Yeah, Saturday against Cork is obviously a great opportunity to try to rectify what happened in the Leinster Final.”
Galway’s biggest issue against Kilkenny was that they didn’t match them for pure physical intensity.
If they’re to beat Cork on Saturday, Canning believes exerting pressure without the ball will be the first box they’ll have to tick.
“I think it all comes down to whether Cork are allowed hurl,” he said. “As in have space and be able to pick out a pass or whether Galway will physically get on top of them and close them down very quickly. I think if you let Cork hurl they're a very dangerous team and they can pig balls into the full-forward line and cause you serious trouble.
“For me, I think it's the Galway forwards and midfield that will be the winning of the game for Galway. Whether they front up physically and work hard enough. Because, as I said, if you let Cork get that running game and have time on the ball, then they'll cause serious problems for you.”