By John Fallon
Galway manager Shane O’Neill says that Joe Canning is in flying form as he prepares to return to Croke Park for the first time since the 2018 All-Ireland final loss to Limerick.
Canning’s championship last year was confined to 20 minutes off the bench against Dublin in Parnell Park after battling back from a serious groin injury picked up against Waterford in the league in March.
Canning scored with his first two touches after coming on but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 3-19 to 0-24 loss to Dublin and with Wexford and Kilkenny drawing that day, the Tribesmen lost out narrowly on qualification.
Now they are back in championship action with Limerick native O’Neill preparing for his first Leinster campaign and he said that Canning is raring to go.
“Joe is in good condition, training away as hard as he always does. He’s in good form and looking forward to the championship as much as everyone else.”
O’Neill is pleased that Croke Park has been chosen to host the Leinster championship and feels it gives players the best chance to express themselves in what could be difficult climatic conditions.
“The best surface in the country is Croke Park so maybe the weather in winter won’t have that much of an adverse effect on the games and the boys are really looking forward to playing there.”
O’Neill is one of three rookie managers in the Liam MacCarthy Cup race this year — Clare’s Brian Lohan made his bow last weekend when they lost to Limerick and Tipp native Liam Cahill will lead Waterford against Cork on Saturday — and he’s thrilled that the championship is going to finally get under way.
“The uncertainty was the worst of it. I would be positive in nature and felt that it would be played and as a management we continued throughout the whole lockdown, throughout the club championship, always in the belief that it would go ahead.
“That’s why we took in as many club matches as possible, looked at as many players and why we are keeping the squad fluid. We don’t know what is going to happen with Covid or injuries so we have to keep a lot of options open.
“I think everyone is just thrilled that it is on and whatever restrictions have to be dealt with are worth it to ensure the games can go ahead,” added O'Neill.Tweet