Hurling and camogie

Ollie Canning backs brother Joe's decision to go for broke in All-Ireland hurling final

Ollie Canning has been lining out at senior level for Portumna for 27 years
Andy Watters

MULTIPLE Allstar winner Ollie Canning has defended his brother Joe's decision to go for broke in the dying seconds of Galway's All-Ireland SHC final defeat to Limerick in August.

Joe Canning had the chance to equalise with one of the last pucks of the game for the defending champions, but his long free fell short, prompting some to say he shouldn't have taken the shot on.

However, brother Ollie, who won four Allstars during his illustrious time with the Galway hurlers, is in no doubt Joe made the correct decision on the day.

“He had to take that free on, if he'd got a perfect connection, he'd more than likely have scored,” Canning the elder said.

“He did 99 per cent of it right because it was on target and only just came up short. Was he disappointed? Yes. But do you beat yourself up over it? No. You can't, that's just the way sport goes.

“You have to move on. He gave it a good shot. Joe took that free on and went for it. These results are never just down to one thing in a game either.”

As for the critics who claim his younger brother should have opted for a short ball, Ollie gave them short shrift: “What's the old saying, 'Hindsight is the foresight of a gobshite'?

“It's very easy to say that afterwards, that he should have took it short. If he had gone short and if someone had intercepted it or if a shot eventually went wide, then all you'd be hearing is 'Why didn't he go for it?'

“He's hit them from that distance plenty of times before. It wasn't outside his range, it was just probably outside his comfort zone, but that's a different thing entirely. I've seen him myself score them from that distance. Was he right to go for it? He was.”

Ollie has been lining out for his club Portumna at senior level for 26 years and, despite a recent hamstring injury, he intends to offer his services again next year. As for the current Galway senior panel, he feels they have plenty left in the tank.

“I don't think there's anyone who is close to the age of retiring,” he said.

“There may be a couple of additions, lads in and maybe one or two out. But I think you'll see the vast majority of them again.

“It's not an old team, they've all got loads to offer to Galway hurling. And you have to be realistic, if you win an All-Ireland it's all great, but if you lose by a point you're not a bad team.”

Goalkeeper Colm Callanan is the oldest player on the panel and struggled last summer with a leg injury, but Ollie is confident he will be back on the Galway panel for 2019.

“Colm was training during the year, but had a leg injury that prevented him from pushing hard,” Canning said.

“He was hoping it would come right, but obviously it didn't come back fully. From Colm's point of view it was unfortunate, but look around the country, all teams get injuries.

“He's one of the oldest guys on the panel, but he can make up his own mind, he doesn't need anyone giving him advice. If he's fit, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't stay on.”

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