Joe Canning is firmly on the road to recovery following a serious hamstring injury sustained in the All-Ireland semi finals against eventual winners, Tipperary. The Galway hurler lay on the pitch in agonising pain.
With one hand gripping his hurl and the other his left leg, it was obvious that Canning was conflicted. As he was helped to his feet by the physio, grimacing with every step towards the sideline, it became apparent that the Portumna man would not feature for the Tribesman again that season.
Canning spoke to Balls.ie about the injury:
It was tough not being able to play but thankfully I didn’t miss too many big matches.
There’s no perfect time to get injured but if there was it was possibly then. Realistically, I missed just one-and-a-half matches. I missed the second half of the Tipp game and then we had a club quarter-final and we got beaten in that.
While Canning had every right to feel aggrieved as he left the stadium, those feelings of discontent soon turned to gratitude when the surgeon revealed that his career came close to ending prematurely as the tendon barely remained attached to the bone. At just 27 years of age, the possibility of retirement would have became reality if it wasn't for that 1.5cm of muscle.
Now, just five months on from the aforementioned setback, Canning is determined to once again become a key player for Galway in 2017. The full-forward reminisces about the incident and treats it as another opportunity for him to prove himself.
It’s funny. I suppose if the injury happened in the middle of the summer then it would be a lot harder, ‘cause I would be missing a lot more matches. Thankfully it wasn't too bad mentally.
I was unlucky but lucky in another way, ‘cause it could have been a lot worse. You do see guys that took the tendon from the bone and they were forced to retire from their sport.
I’m nearly ready again for the next season – hopefully I should be back on the field in the next month or so.
It has now been 29 years since Galway were last crowned All-Ireland hurling champions. To put that into perspective, Joe Canning wasn't even born when the county last lifted the Liam McCarthy cup. Which is quite remarkable.
In that time they have lost six finals, with arguably the most exhilarating game coming against Kilkenny in 2012. That afternoon, Canning levelled the score deep into injury time to bring the game to a replay. Subsequently, Brian Cody's team reigned victorious in the replay.
One thing is for certain: if Galway are to finally go one step beyond then the Portumna player will play a major role in proceedings.
Be sure to check out the Galway man's opinion on rehabilitation, nutrition and sports science in our fitness and lifestyle section.