Canning’s class again shines through for Galway

Joe Canning fired Galway into the Walsh Cup final and past a lacklustre Laois in a sodden Duggan Park in Ballinasloe yesterday.

Canning hit 1-10 of his side’s tally, but was ably assisted by Conor Cooney – in just his second appearance for the Tribesmen – and substitute James Regan who blasted 1-2 for Anthony Cunningham’s side, who meet Kilkenny in next week’s final.

After last weekend’s facile victory over UCD, Cunningham and his management team put their squad through the ringer with a training session after the full-time whistle. This time their pre-match warm-up mirrored the intensity of a championship encounter, but they somehow failed to carry that passion into the opening minutes.

After Canning had hit straight down the Laois keeper’s throat after a trademark burst through the centre, he uncharacteristically missed with the subsequent 65, allowing Teddy McCarthy’s side break upfield and open the scoring through Sean Bourke after six minutes.

But from then on Caning raised his game and didn’t miss the target again.

By half-time he had racked up six points for himself as Galway led 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.

At that stage Laois were well in with a shout, but 25 seconds into the second-half James Regan showed a clean pair of heels to the Laois back line – and one of the umpires who was still making his way to his position – and blasted past Eoin Reilly for a splendid goal.

A minute later Conor Cooney ran on to Johnny Coen’s pass to tap over and Galway’s lead was suddenly out to eight points.

Laois were forced to line out without three starters from the Clough Ballacolla club after the trio took ill on the bus to the ground, but they could have done little to stop Galway’s progress at that stage.

An excellent score from the left touchline by Chris Murray was followed by a Willie Hyland free as the O’Moore County men tried to get a grip with the Tribesmen’s domination. But as soon as McCarthy’s side pulled close, Galway accelerated clear.

Conor Cooney pointed well from distance after some great stick work from the Galway forwards found him in space in the 41st minute and Canning hit his second point from play moments later after a pinpoint clearance from Tony Óg Regan picked him out.

And then two minutes later Canning ended all hopes of a Lazarus-like revival when he blasted to the net with a low finish after Damien Hayes and Regan had done all the hard work.

Canning’s goal shoved Galway 11 points ahead, but they refused to take pity on their opponents as three frees from the Portumna ace and a pair of excellent points from Regan saw Galway canter home.

Cunningham, Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert will be happy to have another game to look forward to next weekend, but Kilkenny – even a development side in black and amber – will be another step up for Galway.

Nevertheless, the green shoots of recovery are evident for the Tribesmen.

Canning was imperious from play and dead balls and alongside him Conor Cooney and James Regan appear to have worked themselves into Galway’s starting league side.

A problem position for some time in full-back could well have been solved by dropping Tony Óg Regan back, while Fergal Moore looked rejuvenated at centre-back. They may not be world beaters as of yet, but Galway are a well improved outfit.

Scorers for Galway: J Canning 1-10 (8fs), J Regan 1-2, C Cooney 0-4 (1 65), D Hayes, D Burke, A Smith 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: W Hyland 0-7 (5fs, 1 65), N Foyle, S Bourke, M McEvoy, C Murray 0-1 each.

GALWAY: J Skehill; D Conolly, T Óg Regan, D Collins; B Flaherty, F Moore, K Hynes; A Smith, J Coen; D Burke, C Donnellan, C Cooney; D Hayes, J Canning, D Glennon.

Subs: J Regan for Glennon (25), J Cooney for Donnellan (52), C Burke for Flaherty (67), T Haran for Canning (67).

LAOIS: E Reilly; B Smith, M Whelan, P Mullaney; J Fitzpatrick, S Reilly, B Stapleton; J Walsh, B Dunne; J Brophy, C Murray, W Hyland; S Bourke, N Foyle, S Lowry.

Subs: M McEvoy for Foyle (46), D O’Mahony for Lowry (51), D Peacock for S Bourke (60).

Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up