Joe Canning’s senior career with Galway thus far has been bookended by meetings with Cork and John Gardiner was on the scene for both.
It all started four years and four months ago when the young Galway forward made his bow in a leaguesemi-final at the Gaelic Grounds. He scored four points that day, the first a pull off the ground and another from a sideline cut.
Last Sunday’s tally ended at 11, four from play, but Canning’s increased maturity as a player went beyond the numbers. It encompassed his defensive duties and a physique that no longer carries the hint of baby weight.
“He is after turning into an unbelievable player,” said Gardiner. “When he came onto the (scene) first, he had potential, but he’s obviously fulfilling his potential out on the field now. He got scores last Sunday that we had never seen before.
“If he keeps going the way he is going, he could really be talked about for the coming years. There will be a lot of pressure in the final to perform and you would be hoping it goes well for him.”
Meanwhile, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín believes the winner of Sunday’s second semi-final between Kilkenny and Tipperary will go on to claim the Liam MacCarthy Cup, but Gardiner expanded yesterday on what Galway will need to do to if they are to win the game.
“If you were the manager of Galway and you had a player like Joe Canning, the main aim would be to get the ball to him as often as you can. Not only is he the most accurate forward in the game, he’s bringing more people into the game now as well.
“You have to use a talent like that. Outside of Joe, the other Galway forwards have stepped up to the plate more than they did in the past.
“They have come on with a couple of fellas who have made a huge impact in the championship and that has really helped him.”
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