Ollie Canning: Daithi Burke is Galway’s linchpin

Former captain Ollie Canning believes that settling on a regular full-back and centre-back would go “a long way” towards solving Galway’s problems.

The Tribesmen face Tipperary in Sunday’s second All-Ireland hurling semi-final and Canning hopes that Daithi Burke continues at full-back, following strong recent form in the position.

The versatile Turloughmore man was man-of-the-match in the quarter-final win over Clare and did a good job on Kilkenny’s TJ Reid for much of the Leinster final.

Four-time All Star Canning, brother of current talisman forward Joe, said that nailing down an established spine in defence has been a problem that has affected Galway for some time.

He believes they can address the issue now by making Burke their undisputed full-back on the edge of the square, starting with Sunday’s winner-takes-all clash with Tipperary.

“It’s been a problem for Galway down through the years, how do you solve the number 3 and number 6 positions?” said former defender Canning.

“We’ve had a lot of players rotate throughout the years in those positions and that will probably go a long way to solving Micheal Donoghue and his management team’s problems if he could settle with Daithi Burke at 3.

“He’s very versatile, he can play 6, he can play wing-back as well. But you would like to see a bit of stability. Most teams have a regular 3, have a regular 6 and they build around that. 

“So it does bring a lot of stability to the backs when you know he’s going to be there.”

Burke has shown he can be an effective man marker and starting at full-back would pit him directly against Tipperary full-forward Seamus Callanan, who has hit 3-9 and 3-8 tallies against Galway in the last two Championships meetings.

But Canning said he’d prefer if Burke was left to man the edge of the square and if the man-marking job was handed to another player.

“If Daithi Burke is given a marking job, if he’s given that job as he was against Kilkenny, that will probably upset Galway a bit,” continued Canning.

“He followed TJ Reid, and knowing Brian Cody, he probably wanted to get Daithi Burke out of the central areas, so TJ spent a lot of time out on the channels in the Leinster final.

“Definitely for the supporters, and I’m sure the management team, if you could see Daithi settled at number 3 and just manning the square, it would be a great help to Galway.”


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