Seconds before accepting his man of the match award, Joe Canning fired an arrow at those who questioned this Galway team and their character following the drawn encounter with Clare. According to Canning, plenty of doubters from within the county had surfaced and it was “great” to silence them.
Given the multitude of first-team regulars who finished the drawn game sitting in the Hogan Stand, Canning wasn’t too pleased with how Galway’s performance, and inability to get the job done at the first time of asking, was framed.
“We felt as a group, we didn’t get too much respect. Clare led last week for only one time in the match, and they didn’t lead at all today. We had five of our key players missing in extra-time last week, as well, and they couldn’t finish it off.
“We thought ourselves that we didn’t get enough respect coming into today. We wanted to set a marker, but they’re a great team. They’re hungry and fresh to get back to an All-Ireland. But like ourselves, we were hungry as well. We had a lot of doubters outside our group, even in our home county. It’s just great that we quietened a few today,” Canning told Sky Sports yesterday.
When later chatting to a gaggle of journalists underneath the Kinnane Stand, the 2017 hurler of the year repeated himself, obviously keen to hammer home his point.
“If extra-time had to be played [today], it had to be played. But we showed great character. We were only behind in both matches once, I think. And we didn’t get a lot of respect during the week, I think, from media and such. Our character was questioned, I thought.
“People were saying we didn’t perform and stuff like that. But only being behind once in an All-Ireland semi-final over two games just shows the character we have.”
That character was evident in the passages of play directly after Peter Duggan’s goal on 53 minutes which brought the Banner within a point, 2-9 to 1-13, of Galway. The Tribesmen marched up the other end of the field, a free was engineered and Canning threw over his third free of the afternoon. Even when Clare’s nimble replacement, Ian Galvin, again cut the gap to the minimum, Niall Burke was fouled for a dead-ball effort which Canning converted.
Clare, so crucially, never got back on level footing.
“You know we have a lot of leaders and we didn’t panic. We got the next score after that goal and we did that against Kilkenny in the Leinster final here, as well. And we did it last weekend when Aron Shanagher got the goal to go ahead, we drew it back level again. So that’s a good sign in a team; when a team gets a goal against you to get ahead that you answer back straight away with another score.
“It was a long five minutes [of injury-time] there at the end. Clare being Clare, you know they’re always going to go at you until the very end. You know, we were just lucky to scrape over, I suppose.
Having needed two bites of the cherry to dump out the Banner, the reigning champions have but a fortnight to prepare for August 19.
“Those two matches the last couple of weekends are probably as good as 10 training sessions.
“But I suppose, our 16 to 34 sort of need to get a bit of game-time into them now. They’ll push us hard because they’re the bedrock of our performances in the Championship. We’ve always said that. They’re the guys that prepare us for days like today.”
On the challenge of Limerick and potential back-to-back titles, the 29-year old was keeping shtum.
“It’s another game, that’s all. It’s an All-Ireland final, two teams going at it. It’s nothing extra. We’re not going to treat it any differently. You know it’s going to be tough. No All-Ireland is going to be won easily and I’m sure Limerick are going to be the same come two weeks’ time.”