Leaving Semple Stadium last Saturday night, the universal regret among all partisans was that we will see no more of Joe Canning in this year’s championship. The Portumna wizard lived up to, and comprehensively surpassed, all the expectation and hype surrounding the teenager. “I want to win for Galway. I will do the best I can to try to make that happen and hopefully on another day we will have success.” Such modesty belies his tender years.
Although crestfallen after his heroic efforts – which undoubtedly guarantees him his first All-Star – the LIT student stood to sign autographs for his adoring fans before candidly assessing where the game was lost. “We were a point or two up at half time and it was looking fairly good for us with a man up, but fair dues to Cork they upped their work rate in the second half. We had a good start in the second half, but when they got ahead we just could not get back at them.”
Canning cites the third quarter - a period where he was starved of possession – as the crucial segment of the encounter. “Midway through the second half they got on top of us and got a few scores, but I suppose they were the better team all round all day. We have to go home now and look at another year without success.”
With Canning’s senior career only in its infancy, Leesiders were applauding the heroics of a hero at the twilight of a glorious innings. Chants of “Deano” echoed around Tom Semple’s field as the diminutive Deane rediscovered a rich vein of form, to break Galway hearts. The Killeagh clubman lauded his teammates’ character in the face of adversity.
“Coming into the game a win would be huge but the way the game panned out makes it sweeter. Playing with the breeze in the first half, conceding goals and Donal Óg getting sent off, our backs were to the wall in the second half. Our character has been questioned time and time again and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the players in that dressing room.”
When Canning clinically dispatched the penalty following Cusack’s dismissal, the odds were stacked in the Tribesmen’s favour, yet Deane believes the rebels upped their performance in tribute to the Cloyne custodian.
“The timing of the incident was difficult for us coming up to half time, especially when he put away the penalty afterwards. Donal Óg has been an unbelievable hero to all of us, he has stood up to everything and without him we would not have won a couple of All-Irelands, so we’re delighted we have given him a chance to play the next day.”
Old foes Clare await Deane and company next weekend. For Galway, another season brimming with promise is confined to the scrapheap. Another long winter of post-mortems and discontent awaits. At least Galway supporters’ hearts will be consoled by the emergence of a modern day hurling genius.