way’s disappointing defeat to Waterford last Sunday came with the news that Joe Canning’s injury is not as serious as was first feared when the Galway talisman was stretchered off in injury time in Nowlan Park.
Canning had barrelled towards goal in the final minute of normal time with Galway somehow trailing by three points despite having a man advantage after the sending off of Mikey Kearney on 54 minutes. Waterford had scored six unanswered points and Canning knew a goal was required.
After shaking off the attentions of Jamie Barron and Colm Roche, the Portumna man was met with a hefty shoulder by Kevin Moran, deemed fair by referee Paud O’Dwyer. But he received medical attention for some four minutes before being helped off the field.
A shoulder or collar bone injury was the obvious immediate conclusion, but the medical update from Micheál Donoghue afterwards suggested a groin injury and this turned into a dead leg prognosis on Monday. That Galway’s main attacking threat is expected to be available in May for championship action cannot be underestimated.
Despite playing against the elements, Galway flew out of the blocks and had five points on the board within four minutes through Cathal Mannion, Davy Glennon (two ), Brian Concannon, and Canning.
The four-point advantage was chipped away gradually until Galway only led by two after 26 minutes, having seen Concannon denied by a good save from Stephen O’Keeffe.
Galway reasserted themselves, though, to push ahead by 0-11 to 0-6, but disaster stuck on 33 minutes when Stephen Bennett’s long-range free bounced through Fergal Flannery’s legs and straight to the net. Waterford were second best for most of the half, but only trailed by two.
Cathal Mannion maintained his excellent form with two more points in the third quarter which, allied to efforts by Conor Whelan and Canning (two frees ), appeared to be keeping Waterford at arm’s length, as Galway led by 0-17 to 1-11 with just some 20 minutes to play. From there, though, Waterford began to take control, despite Kearney’s sending off.
When impressive full back Callum Lyons came forward to nudge Waterford into the lead for the first time, the momentum had shifted, and Galway’s shooting became erratic. Eight minutes of stoppage time were required after Canning’s injury, but late points from Glennon and Jason Flynn could not rescue the situation.
Galway’s focus quickly shifts now to the Leinster championship, with five games in the space of six weeks, starting with the home fixture against Carlow on May 12. Whether many of the new faces tested during the league campaign will be involved in the business end of the campaign remains to be seen, but once Canning is involved, Galway will be favourites to retain their title.
GALWAY: F Flannery; R Burke, G McInerney, D Morrissey; P Killeen, P Mannion, A Harte; C Mannion (0-4 ), K Hussey (0-1 ); J Coen (0-1 ), C Whelan (0-1 ), J Canning (0-7, 5fs ); D Glennon (0-3 ), N Burke, B Concannon (0-1 ). Subs: J Grealish for Morrissey (45 mins ), J Flynn (0-1f ) for N Burke (55 mins ), T Haran for Coen (68 mins ), J Mannion for Canning (72 mins ), J Hanbury for Killeen (75 mins ).