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Hurling

'Joe Canning was a better hurler than Henry Shefflin' | A legend retires

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

21:20 28 Jul 2021

Liam Griffin and Michael Duignan joined Off The Ball on Wednesday evening on the day that Joe Canning announced his retirement from the Galway senior panel.

Canning revealed that he had decided before the start of this year that he was heading into his final season with the Galway team.

"I had it in my head all year that this would probably be my last year," he said on Wednesday. "I don't want to overstay my welcome, or be there as a token gesture.

“I told the boys after in the dressing room, that was it, so have to keep my word a bit on that one.

“I will keep playing with Portumna, but that’s me finished with Galway."

Liam Griffin on Joe Canning

Former Wexford hurling manager Liam Griffin remembers his first encounter with Canning at the Arrabawn tournament when he came up against Galway.

"There was a sideline cut right beside us on the touchline and this young guy put it straight over the black spot. He went straight back into the half-back line, was fouled and put it straight over the bar.

"I said to someone from Galway: 'Who the hell is that lad? I've been watching him' and they said 'That's Joe Canning.'

"I said 'Is he anything to Ollie?' He said 'Yeah, he's his brother.' I said 'You go home to Ollie and tell him he's not even a superstar in his own house any more, this fella is fantastic.'

"He was 15 years old and he gave an exhibition, you could see that he was absolutely amazing. Same with Richie Hogan or these fellas, they were good when you see them at 12.

"He's a fantastic player, there's no question about it."

'Canning is a better hurler than Henry'

Indeed, Griffin believes that Canning is among the very best to have played the game.

"I would have him absolutely in the top echelon." Griffin said.

"He was a better hurler than Henry [Shefflin]. That may sound bad, but he was technically a better hurler and Henry had to work much harder for the qualities that he had.

"Henry didn't get on his team in college [...] but Joe Canning was shining from the time he was a good bit younger. That's where Henry deserves great credit because he had to work so hard for it.

"We've had so many great hurlers that I would say you cannot separate them out because they all came from different angles. But I would definitely put Joe Canning as definitely one of the greatest hurlers I have ever seen play the game."

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