Canning’s injury may prove ‘a blessing in disguise’ for Tribesmen, reckons Lane

Joe Canning of Galway in action against, from left, Shane Fives and Philip Mahony of Waterford during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Noel Lane wants Joe Canning back in the maroon and white as soon as yesterday but the former Galway manager reckons his groin injury could yet be “a blessing in disguise” for the county.

Lane is hopeful the leadership void Canning leaves will be filled by others in upcoming Leinster games, beginning with the visit of Wexford to Salthill on Sunday.

“It’s not ideal that Joseph Cooney and Jonny Glynn were missing for the winter but they’re back and they’ll be ready sooner rather than later. Joe Canning is out but there are 10 other forwards in the squad and they’re all going to have to step up to the plate to make up for his absence.

“Sometimes when you have a player who is head and shoulders above everyone else, there is a tendency among others to let him lead but now it’s up to them to take it on and it could be a blessing in disguise.

"The other thing is Joe’s injury happened way out and there’s a chance to address it and plan for it regarding free-takers and the shape of the team. We’d take Joe back with open arms but until then, we may gain strength.”

Speaking so frankly about Canning might sound almost disrespectful to the player but having the cutthroat competition which defined Kilkenny in their pomp is what every county wants, says Lane.

“You look at the Kilkenny model over the last 20 years and the Tommy Walshs and JJ Delaneys retiring too early when they would have played on with any other county. That’s what counties are striving for, that you can never rest on your laurels.

Sometimes, the team that wins an All-Ireland tends to stick with the tried and trusted but Micheál (Donoghue) has looked at younger players in the League. Division 1B has its disadvantages and its advantages but it gave Galway a chance to experiment.

"It’s nothing like 1A or the Championship but even last year Galway came through Leinster and with all respect to Leinster, they then faced Clare and the higher standard of Munster was there to see.

"All teams are preparing practically the same. They all have 20-plus people in the backroom who take care of their every need or crisis. But it comes down to the players that cross the white line.

“Cork proved that the last two Sundays, losing so badly to Tipperary then giving an exhibition that has got us all running scared.”

Galway have a good record against Wexford under Davy Fitzgerald but the Model County come to Pearse Stadium sharp after a dramatic draw away to Dublin. Lane believes there much more than the defensive team they are portrayed to be.

“Wexford have shown their hand from a long time ago, and accordingly other teams in Leinster and Munster would have training sessions where one of the teams would set up like them. Wexford’s style is not something that comes as a surprise.

“It’s about finding a way around it and most teams do come up with something but I think a lot of commentators overplay the defensive game of Wexford. All teams do what they do. Nobody plays with six backs in their own half and six forwards in the other — it’s much more fluid than that. Every player now has to be able to go back and forward.”

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