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Joe Canning Regrets Ousting Of Former Galway Hurling Manager

Joe Canning Regrets Ousting Of Former Galway Hurling Manager
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Joe Canning says the ousting of Anthony Cunningham as Galway hurling manager in 2015 "wasn’t the right thing to do", and that he was one of those who wanted the St Thomas's man to remain in the role.

Cunningham, who was appointed ahead of the 2012 season and led the county to two All-Ireland finals, resigned as manager in November 2015 following a vote of no confidence by players. Just six weeks earlier, he had been reappointed by the county board for what was due to be his fifth season in charge.

"The first couple of years in Galway, if you're being honest, we just weren't good enough," Canning, who made his Galway senior debut in 2008, says in his episode of TG4's Laochra Gael series which premieres on January 26th at 9:30pm.

"When Anthony came in, I think he brought in something like 20 or 21 under-21s from the year previous, and just cleared a lot of the older guys.

"In other people's minds, definitely in other team's [minds], we were a soft touch for a long time. He would have steeled our minds, and made us a bit tougher."

joe canning galway hurling anthony cunningham

6 September 2015; Joe Canning, Galway, clashes with Eoin Larkin, Kilkenny as Galway manager Anthony Cunningham steps in. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Galway reached the 2015 All-Ireland decider, and led at half-time, but as had happened three years previous, they lost to Kilkenny. In a statement issued at the time, Cunninghan said he considered the heave against him to be "a kangaroo court decision", which was "led by a core group of players orchestrated with the help of others outside Galway, motivated by a desire to unjustly extend their lifespan as intercounty players, placing personal agendas above the greater good of Galway hurling."

"With Anthony, everybody knows that the players had a vote, and there were players represented to go and talk to him as well - I was part of that," says Canning.


"I felt, and three or four of the other guys felt, that we should have been looking at ourselves, and not the management.


"I actually backed Anthony to stay.

"Because he had done so much for us, it wasn’t the right thing to do. It just got messy after that.

"It still drags on, the narrative: ‘Never win an All-Ireland. Never win an All-Ireland.’"


Canning's Galway teammate David Burke, who captained the county to the 2017 All-Ireland title, added that, "The players cross the line, and have to deal with some of that flak, which we did at times. We probably needed to look at ourselves a bit more at the same time, and not pinpoint management."

Micheál Donoghue was subsequently appointed as Galway manager, and led to county to that 2017 title, their first in 29 years.

"It was a lot of pressure put on us and I think guys understood that as well: 'If we don’t perform in ‘16 we will be bad-mouthed forever else'," says Canning.



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