Canning's return a major boost for Offaly showdownJune 15, 2012 - 7:00am
The Galway senior hurlers have received a massive boost ahead of their Leinster championship hurling semi-final showdown at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise this Sunday (2pm), with the news that ace marksman Joe Canning is expected to be fit to resume his place in the attack.
It is understood the Portumna sharpshooter has responded positively to treatment after suffering a recurrence of the shoulder injury he sustained playing with Limerick IT in the Fitzgibbon Cup back in February, in a challenge game against Clare recently.
As a result, Canning was forced to sit out Galway’s 5-19 to 4-12 victory over Westmeath in their Leinster championship opener – although, as the scoreline suggests, the Tribesmen’s attack coped sufficiently without him on that occasion.
In any event, it is expected Canning will be named in the starting fifteen when Galway manager Anthony Cunningham announces his selection this evening (Thursday).
However, it still remains to be seen if defender David Collins will feature having aggravated an ankle injury he picked up in the club hurling championship, although Galway coach Tom Helebert is optimistic about the Liam Mellows man’s participation.
“I suppose, David Collins is the more concerning – his injury is slightly more serious – but hopefully he will be okay,” says Helebert, who adds that other than Collins, Galway have no fresh injury worries.
That said, heading into this one, Galway are not without theirconcerns, given the concession of four goals against Division 2A outfit Westmeath in their Leinster championship opener. Helebert concedes the Tribesmen can’t be as generous against Offaly, who boast of quality forwards like Shane Dooley, Joe Bergin and Cathal Parlon, to mention but three.
“They are all strong ball winners and strong finishers, so we have to make sure our game is very solid at the back the next day,” says Helebert. “In fairness, we have been focusing on that in training over the last week and hopefully it will all work out when we need it to on Sunday.”
The signs have been good in this regard with Galway already keeping a clean sheet against Tipperary in a challenge at Semple Stadium last weekend. The contest ended 3-16 to 0-21 in Galway’s favour, with two players to make an impact being Sarsfields’ Joseph Cooney and Ardrahan’s Jonathan Glynn, both of whom, consequently, are in contention for starting berths against Offaly.
“That was a good workout and the important thing on the night was that we had a good defensive performance,” continues Helebert.
“Fellows were very much focused on making sure the goal area wasn’t threatened and they were determined not to let Tipperary score any goals on the night. So, that was very encouraging given what had happened against Westmeath the Sunday before.
“Again, it was a good workout in terms of what we were trying to focus on and thankfully we got the result from it. While I know it was only a challenge game – and challenges are different to championship – it is the same ideas that you are trying to put into play. So, we were pleased from that point of view.”
In any event, it’s Offaly who present Galway’s next championship test. Having registered their first Leinster championship win over Wexford in 12 years, when accounting for the Model County on a 2-12 to 1-13 in the quarter-final a fortnight ago, Offaly will be well primed for Sunday’s clash.
Already, Offaly manager Ollie Baker has announced an unchanged side for the semi-final and, again, it is a formidable outfit. Goalkeeper James Dempsey resumes his place between the posts while Derek Morkan, captain David Kenny, David Franks and James Rigney are all established members in the Midlanders’ defence.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.