GALWAY star Joe Canning has piled the pressure on Dublin ahead of the counties’ crucial Division 1A relegation play-off on Sunday.
Canning insists that as league champions, Dublin are in a much more dire situation than the new-look Galway side taking shape under Anthony Cunningham.
“They have more experience than us as a panel of players,” said the Portumna sharp-shooter.
“There will be more pressure on them seeing as they are league champions and fighting in a relegation final. It’s huge for them. I wouldn’t like to be in a situation where you’re league champions fighting relegation, no matter who you’re missing.
“At the same time, we have a new panel of players and new management and are just working hard to improve.”
Canning described Galway’s league hammering at the hands of Kilkenny as “embarrassing”, but insists that he has been quite happy with the progress made under new boss Cunningham in the league.
“I don’t think it’s been too bad. We were the puck of a ball away from getting into a semi-final. We won two games and lost two by two points and we could have drawn those two games as well, or even could have won those games. Obviously the Kilkenny game was a total disaster for us.
“But I’d be happy enough with the way the league has gone considering the panel of the players that we have, that haven’t got any real championship exposure at senior level.
“We’re building for the future. There are 20-21 guys there that are U-21 on the panel and it’s a huge thing for us.”
Dublin were comprehensive winners when the sides met in theLeinster semi-final in Tullamore last summer. The Dubs had six points to spare, despite playing with 14 men for the majority of the game after Ryan O’Dwyer’s dismissal.
However, Canning believes that result will have little impact on Sunday’s game and that the Connacht men could have gotten a lot closer that day.
“Most of the guys who will be playing for us didn’t play them last year, so I don’t think that has any factor. It’s history,” he said.
“And I think (last year’s game) was blown out of proportion. We had more chances than Dublin — we just didn’t take our chances. We had a lot of wides that day and if we can improve on that at all, we won’t be too far off.
“In a way, us coming into Leinster took the limelight off Dublin. It took a small bit of pressure off because people were talking about us and Kilkenny. They have profited from that.”
Despite Tribesmen selector Tom Helebert hinting that Canning could be available for this weekend, the Portumna man stated that he is unlikely to be involved in Sunday’s encounter as he continues to struggle with a shoulder injury that he picked up on Fitzgibbon Cup duty with Limerick IT.
However, Dublin injury concerns have eased slightly as they can call on Peter Kelly and Paul Ryan once more, but they are still without knee injury victims Conal Keaney, Tomas Brady and Stephen Hiney.
“It’s seven weeks (since the injury) and it’s still not fully right, so I won’t be involved on Sunday I think anyway,” Canning said. “For the first couple of weeks I didn’t do anything because I was in a sling. ive been training away for the last couple of weeks, but at this level if you miss three or four weeks it’s tough to get back into it.
“I’ve been back in hurling training anyway, but with no real contact for the last couple of weeks. However, I have been doing everything else. We have the club championship in two or three weeks and I would say that will probably be the target for me to come back into it.”
– Donnchadh Boyle – Irish Independent