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Eoin Kelly: ‘Joe Canning Should Start For Galway Even If Not Fully Fit’

Galway and Clare battled to a draw after 90 minutes of play in the All-Ireland semi-final last weekend, with the replay taking place at Semple Stadium this Sunday.

One cause for concern for the Tribesmen ahead of the rematch is the fitness of star centre forward Joe Canning.

The 29-year-old limped off the field during extra time of last week’s game with what looked to be a knee injury. He had scored 12 points up to that point, underlining his importance to Galway’s hopes of retaining the Liam MacCarthy cup.

It’s likely that he will be made available for the upcoming replay, but the ‘All Star’ hasn’t been declared fully fit. Despite this, Eoin Kelly, Paddy Power GAA ambassador and columnist with Paddy Power News (, believes that Micheál Donoghue should risk starting the Portumna man against Clare.

“If you’ve only got a 70 or 80% fit Joe Canning available to you, you start him anyway – even if just for his free taking alone”, the Tipperary legend stated.

“Joe is never bursting with pace, he just uses his cuteness. I believe at the stage in his career he’s knows wherever he drifts to, he’s going to bring a man-marker with him and he’s very unselfish, I like that about him. If he was half-injured, he’d still create space to allow guys to run into.

“Because he’s Joe Canning I’d start him at less than 100%, if it was anyone else I wouldn’t.”

Dublin , Ireland - 3 September 2017; Galway's Joe Canning watches on as captain David Burke lifts the Liam MacCarthy cup following the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

As for who has the edge heading into the replay, Kelly is backing Canning and co. to break the deadlock and send Galway into the final against Limerick later this month.

“Tactically, Galway were brilliant in the first 10/15 minutes and then Clare moved Colm Galvin in as a sweeper”, he continued.

“That may have thrown Galway a small bit and usually their management team are prepared for these scenarios to come at them. So, I reckon they’ll have more homework done on Clare this time around.

But this is going right down to the wire, have no doubt about it. Galway still have enough to win it for me though. They are just a bit more physical.”

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Author: Chris Kelleher

Student whose interests lie in sports ranging from Darts to MMA, with the likes of Golf, Boxing and Soccer in between. Closet wrestling fan and a lover of sports psychology and stiff jabs.