Hurling

Remembering That Joe Canning Semi-Final Of 2017

Remembering That Joe Canning Semi-Final Of 2017

It's a long time since last August. It's a very long time since Richie Hogan clattered into Cathal Barrett and Tipperary were crowned All-Ireland Champions. It's even longer since Limerick lost their crown in a classic to Kilkenny, or since Wexford so nearly made it, or since Laois were the darlings of the summer. Championship hurling has been a long time coming, but it's back at last. Tomorrow night, Dublin will meet Laois (in the dark!), yellow sliotar and all! On Sunday, Limerick and Clare will meet in a Munster quarter-final come League final. It's all a bit odd. It's all a bit precarious. But, it's back!

As we prepare for the burst of life that hurling fans have been waiting far too long for this weekend, we've been looking back on some of the great moments of Championships past.

*****

Today, we remember possibly the greatest day of Joe Canning's career. A few weeks later, Galway would break the 29 year hoodoo and lift Liam MacCarthy after a win over Waterford. It was the semi-final that will live long in hurling annals though - the day we saw one of the game's great players have his defining moment.

It's worth remembering that this was the third year in a row that Galway and Tipperary had met in the All-Ireland semi-final. It had become a rivalry to match their bitter encounters of the late '80s.

In 2015, Seamus Callanan put in one of the greatest performances ever seen on a losing team as a last second Galway point won it in dramatic circumstances. 2016 had been just as close and as frantic until two late Tipp goals.

Now, in 2017, it was neck and neck yet again. Tipperary were All-Ireland champions and weren't going away quietly. 73 minutes and 58 seconds had been played. Four minutes of injury time had been allotted. The game was a draw and heading for a replay. The scene was set for a big moment, and the biggest player on the pitch stood up.

Advertisement

Just seconds earlier, Canning had dropped a long free just short of the square. Momentarily, it looked like it might squirm beyond Darren Gleeson but the Tipp keeper got his hurley to the sliotar.

After the ball was cleared to the halfway line, Johnny Coen took possession for Galway and found Canning in space. Though, it was a minimum in which he had to operate. The Portumna man unleashed a monster point to send his county into the All-Ireland decider.

Speaking to RTÉ after the game, a modest Canning - who scored 11 points in all - claimed himself lucky to have had the effort clear the bar.

It’s just lucky it went over. I remember a couple of years ago against Waterford I had the same thing to draw the match and I missed it so it’s nice when it comes off on a day like today.

To be honest it could have went anywhere. It wasn’t a great day with the frees or anything like that so I’m just lucky it went over in the end.

Advertisement

Joe Canning

Joe Canning

Every Galway man and woman in Croke Park erupted at the winning score. There was no time left. Galway had reached the All-Ireland final in the most dramatic of ways, and had beaten the All-Ireland champions and the old enemy. Even those who you might have thought would show a little impartiality couldn't contain the madness. RTE were only too happy to share the emotion and passion of their Galway men working on the game, Darren Frehill for RTE Radio in the press box, and Michael Lyster and Cyril Farrell in the Sunday Game studio.

Advertisement

Joe Canning

While Canning was the calmest man in Croke Park in the final moments of the game, it was a different story on Galway Bay FM's commentary team.

Sean Walsh was joined by Galway legend Conor Hayes in the Hogan Stand, and the duo could not contain their excitement when Canning scored what would be the winning point.

For those wondering, the 5.30 race on Sunday evening at the Galway Races was won by Dara Tango. We cannot tell you what was in the local news that evening though. We're sure it might have been somewhat hurling related.

Advertisement

After the game, Canning, whose nephew Jack had just lit up the minor semi-final a couple of hours before, captured the nation's heart with an emotional embrace with his parents in Croke Park.

Joe Canning Joe Canning

Canning made his way over to his parents to celebrate the win. The scene was made all the more poignant after the star was interviewed in the Irish Independent the day before. Canning spoke about how his parents both battled and defeated cancer in recent years.

When the two of them got sick, it hit me hard. Like, people often ask me why do I play hurling. Why do you do it? I do it for Mam and Dad, to make them feel proud. To see the smile on their faces after a game.

Like every young person, I probably took what my parents did for granted. But their sickness made me appreciate what they did for me a lot more.

The interview with Canning on Saturday revealed a man who is happy with hurling but knows there is more to life than the winning or losing of a game.

Joe Canning

A couple of weeks later, David Burke lifted Liam MacCarthy in the Hogan Stand, and gave a magnificent speech that touched on Galway hurling's tragic losses of Tony Keady and Niall Donoghue. On the pitch after his crowning achievement, Joe Canning stood with the Keady family.

 

SEE ALSO: Remembering Marty Morrissey's Pre-Match All-Ireland Commentary That Had Us In Tears

Joe Canning

 

Michael McCarthy

You may also like