Intriguing key battles to watch on Sunday

Joe Canning (Portumna) v JJ Delaney (Fenians)

Looking back to Michael Murphy's man-of-the-match display for Donegal last Sunday and the inspiration and belief that his early wonder goal gave to his teammates, brings us neatly to the importance of Joe Canning to Galway this weekend.

Murphy was the Donegal captain and his 1-4, and powerful performance for the full 70 minutes was key to the Sam Maguire going back to the hills of Donegal for the first time in 20 years.

Likewise, if Galway are to have the Liam McCarthy Cup in Pearse Stadium next Monday evening, it is imperative Joe Canning continues to provide the scores and leadership he has produced all season.

Canning is a truly special talent and he has added consistency and massive levels of fitness to his incredible ability this season.

He has already won two All-Stars and there is likely to be another heading his way this year too, but it is a senior All-Ireland medal that he really wants.

His stunning goal three weeks ago really lit up the stadium and Galway's challenge, and it is probable that he will need to do something similar this Sunday. It is a lot of pressure for a man who is only 23 years of age, but he has had to deal with such expectation since he burst onto the inter-county and club scene.

It is difficult to predict match-ups these days, but it is quite possible that Brian Cody will again ask JJ Delaney to shadow Galway's talisman.

Delaney is 30 and he is a very experienced campaigner and was recently described by former Clare selector Tony Considine as the greatest defender he had ever seen. That is a serious statement. The Fenians man has won 5 All-Stars and seven senior All-Ireland medals.

If Delaney can quell Canning's influence and hold him to scores from placed balls, he will have done his duty. And more.

Whoever comes out on top in this duel will have a key influence on where the 2012 All-Ireland hurling title rests at 5.10pm this Sunday.


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