Jack Canning determined to make his own mark
By Michael Devlin
Kilkenny's injury time fightback in Croke Park on Sunday forced Joe Canning and the Galway senior hurlers to contest for the Leinster title once more, but another member of the famous Portumna clan is hoping his own side can get the job done in a single take in the U21 decider tomorrow evening.
Jack Canning will be a leading figure for a young Tribesmen side in the hunt for glory against Wexford in their first-ever Leinster Championship Final.
“It’s a new experience for the players themselves and the management, it’s the first time for everyone," said the forward.
“We played Wexford in Portlaoise two years ago. We didn’t really look too much into them as of now, we’re kind of focusing on ourselves, our own game plan.
“We’re looking forward to it, they’re not going to be easily beat. There are a lot of young lads coming up, the likes of Rory O’Connor, a great hurler.”
With All-Ireland minor winners from 2017 and 2015 in their ranks, Galway know what it takes to perform on the big occasion, and they underlined their aim to capture a Leinster crown at the first attempt with a comfortable win over Offaly in the first round earlier this month.
A dead leg injury curtailed Canning’s involvement in the game, but he was back in to start against Kilkenny in a tense 3-13 to 1-17 semi-final win over Kilkenny in Tullamore three weeks ago.
Galway dominated the third quarter and lead by nine with 10 minutes remaining. They had to weather a late fightback from the Cats however to see out the win and take their place in the final. Back at full fitness, Canning is hoping to get going from the start against Wexford.
“I got back for the Kilkenny game, and I was rusty alright, I didn’t get into it. Hopefully I’ll get it started the next day and I’ll be fine.
“John Donnelly hitting the upright, it was a bit of luck from our point of view that he missed. They’re never beat until the end, Kilkenny. It was good though, a great game to win."
While he has grown up idolising uncles Ollie and Joe, both Galway hurling legends, Jack stressed the importance of not just emulating their success but forging his own name in the game.
"They’re great, very supportive. I get the odd text before a game, but I try not to get too much involved with it either because obviously I have to sort things out myself.
"Joe and Ollie had to learn for themselves, it’s all about experience and learning from your mistakes and your positives.
"Having Joe as an uncle, it’s a name alright but I don’t really look into it. Joe is not going to be playing for me, I have to play for myself. If I don’t perform, it’s down to me. I still have to hurl at the end of the day to try and prove myself."
A few sojourns into Micheál Donoghue's senior squad training has given him a taste of things to come in the years ahead. While a long career in the Galway jersey looks to be on the horizon, Canning's focus is purely on the task at hand with the U21s tomorrow night.
“I was just in and out for a few training games and stuff like that. It’s always nice to get in there, but I’m enjoying U21s.
“It’s a different animal, everytime I was in there it was tough. It’s a good experience to get in there and see what it’s like. It’s a big step up physically and mentally, from minor and even from U21s. It’s nice to get in there, but U21s are on, and I’m focusing on that and enjoying it."