touching tribute | 

GAA legend Joe Canning chokes back tears as he opens up about his late mum

The All-Ireland winning former Hurler of The Year will be seen becoming teary-eyed in the TG4 production

Joe embraces his mum Josephine

Joe Canning with his mum Josephine after a match

Joe Canning

Eugene MastersonSunday World

Galway hurling legend Joe Canning has paid a loving tribute to his late mother Josephine, who sadly died in January last year.

The All-Ireland winning former Hurler of The Year will be seen becoming teary-eyed in a TG4 documentary when he describes how his mum bravely battled against cancer.

Joe (34) also recalls his joy as Galway won their first Liam McCarthy Cup in 29 years when they lifted the All-Ireland in 2017, and how he sought out his father Sean and mum Josephine in the crowd to share his big moment.

“To find Mam and Dad, to find their face,” he recalls. “That was the best thing about the day. They shaped me to get there and to be part of that team. So, for me it was them winning it.”

He explains that Josephine was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

“She recovered, but in 2020 we played Limerick. I got knocked out that night and she said ‘how are you feeling’ and I said ‘I’m awful sore down here, me arm and me neck and me back, I can’t move it’.

Joe Canning

"I asked, ‘how are you’, and she said, ‘I’m grand’. I’m complaining about a sore neck and she is suffering from cancer.

“So that’s how she was. Yeah, we were very close,” he reflects, as he chokes back tears.

His family have an adorable little shrine placed in their kitchen in Josephine’s memory, with a picture of her smiling face sitting next to a stature of the Virgin Mary.

Joe also reveals how the same house near Portumna was the target of hate mail over comments he maintains was taken out of context about Kilkenny.

“I made a remark, a stupid enough remark obviously, about Henry (Sheflin) not being sportsmanlike,” he said after a Under 21 final. “In my next sentence I said ‘but we need to be more like them’.

“Whatever way you look at it, I was complimenting him in a way, that we needed to be like Henry and Kilkenny if we were to win the next day.

“I remember waking up the following morning and my phone was going mad and I was ‘what the f**k is going on here’. What did I say?.”

The captain of the All-Ireland winning team, David Burke, recalls the fuss.

“Joe’s comments probably didn’t mean to make the headlines as they were. It was more admiration for Kilkenny than anything, but I could see how Kilkenny might use that. Automatically I was like ‘ah the boys are going to kill him’,” he recalls.

Joe Canning with his mum Josephine after a match

Joe remembers the hate mail coming to his family home.

“Mam and dad got a letter from Kilkenny, that they burned, never showed me. Which is worse for me. I’d rather see it and not them,” he notes.

Sean does not take it too seriously.

“We usually wouldn’t open Joe’s letters, but the sight of this we knew it was not good,” he smiles. “So, we burned it before Joe seen it. We knew it would hurt him. That’s what parents do. It warmed the house for a while (laughs).”

Caning announced his retirement from intercounty hurling in July of 2021, after a 13 year career that saw Galway take home four All-Ireland titles, including the coveted senior victory in 2017.

  • Laochra Gael – Joe Canning TG4 Thursday 9:30pm.

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