Ollie: Galway in better place than ’01 and ’05

Ollie Canning says Galway are coming into this year’s All-Ireland final in much better shape than they did in their two previous deciders in 2001 and 2005.

The Portumna man was a key component in the Galway back-line on both those occasions following stunning semi-final victories over Kilkenny only to then lose to Tipperary and Cork respectively.

On the back of their so-so semi-final performance against Cork last day out, Canning feels Anthony Cunningham’s side are in a healthier frame of mind than previous September occasions.

“I think Galway are coming into the final in a good position, they played very well in the Leinster final and did enough to get over Cork but still didn’t set the world on fire,” he said. “So when they went back to the training ground they knew they had work to do. Back in 2001 and 2005 when we beat Kilkenny we didn’t have that long to come down off the high of the semi-final victory and it was such a shock to some people at the time.”

Galway supporters, Canning knows, are “pleasantly surprised” that they have made the final in Cunningham’s first year in charge.

But he doesn’t for one second think that Galway can’t win on Sunday just because the majority of the panel have yet to lose an All-Ireland SHC final.

“From a players’ point of view you’d be looking to the more experienced players in the Galway dressing room to try and emphasise the fact that it’s not that often that you’ll get this chance.

“You just look at the Tipperary team. Brendan Cummins will tell you when they won the first one, or even Eoin Kelly in 2001, they never thought it would take that long to win another one.”

Not since 1997 when Clare beat Tipperary in provincial and All-Ireland finals have a county beaten the same team twice in an All-Ireland SHC. It’s a feat, Canning appreciates, that will be difficult to repeat but he hopes Galway will take positives from what they achieved so far.

“Kilkenny will obviously be using that as a huge motivation factor so I think Galway will have to try and take confidence from that.”

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