Joe Canning has admitted he was aware some thought his litany of serious injury setbacks might end his career and that he took satisfaction from proving them wrong.
The Galway talisman and 2017 Hurler of the Year has had three surgeries in the last three years, to rectify hamstring, knee, and groin issues.
The hamstring and groin problems were particularly severe, with the groin injury occurring last March when the 30-year-old forward had to be carried off against Waterford in the Allianz League.
Canning explained “a piece of the bone came off, the pubic bone” when he landed awkwardly after a Kevin Moran shoulder and the operation required the insertion of two corrective rods.
During the 2016 Championship, he suffered a bad hamstring tear though on both occasions made a full recovery from surgery despite some suggesting that they were career threatening setbacks.
Asked if he feared he might not play again after the hamstring and groin problems, Canning said he was aware that some certainly thought so.
“It crossed my mind to the extent that people told me, but not to the point that I didn’t believe that I’d never play again myself,” he said.
“I don’t know, it’s just me. I like to try to prove people wrong in whatever I do, so there wasn’t any stage where I thought to myself: ‘I’ll never play again’.
“I don’t know if that’s just me or what, but I was always confident that in my own head I had markers for myself and you don’t really share them with anybody but you’d always have a set goal to get back.”
Canning got back from the groin problem to appear in the Championship as a substitute in Galway’s Leinster defeat to Dublin, a result that ended their campaign.
He said he learned “on the grapevine” that many people thought the injuries might force him to quit altogether.
“People who didn’t know too much about it, the same people that reported I had a dead leg,” said the Portumna man, who was frustrated that his groin injury was initially reported as a dead leg problem.
“It was just somebody trying to make a headline, trying to get ahead of somebody else and to be the first.
“I think it was Denzel Washington that said a few years ago in a clip, and I actually retweeted the clip of him only about a week before it happened to me, and he said that if you read the news you’re misinformed and if you don’t you’re uninformed, that it’s all about this world of being first, of tweeting about it and writing about it and being the first person to have it.
“It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s true or not, but if you’re first, everybody believes it.”
A statement from Galway clarified the extent of Canning’s injury back in spring following the reports of a mere dead leg.
Speaking at yesterday’s Bord Gáis Energy promotion ahead of this weekend’s All-Ireland U20 semi-finals, the All-Ireland winner was clearly still perturbed about it.
“I didn’t even know for a week, I obviously had to get scans and stuff and get medical advice on it,” said Canning of the extent of the injury. “For a reporter to know something before I actually knew myself was a bit strange.”
Canning said he was less frustrated with his own limited involvement in the Championship than the fact Galway exited at the earliest possible stage.
He won’t have another game until mid-August when Portumna resume their club championship campaign.
On this issue, the powerful forward claimed the timing of the club and county championship campaigns needs to be looked at again.
He proposed the All-Ireland finals be returned to September and that county championships around the country be run off and completed by May.
“I’d play the club championships early on in the year, maybe February to May,” he said. “Then have the inter-county championship until the end of September or whatever.
“Even from a marketing perspective, if you want kids to play sport, have it going for as much of the year as you can. It (the current model) is not helping the club scene either. We played more club matches under the old system, during the summer, than we did in the new system.
“We would have played three club matches under the old system, compared to two now.”