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talking point Retired Canning says he won’t miss the burden of living up to ‘The Joe Show’ with Galway

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Galway's Joe Canning following his side's defeat to Waterford in the All-Ireland SHC at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Galway's Joe Canning following his side's defeat to Waterford in the All-Ireland SHC at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Galway's Joe Canning following his side's defeat to Waterford in the All-Ireland SHC at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The one thing Joe Canning won’t miss about lining out for Galway is the enormous expectation which lay on his shoulders every time he pulled on a maroon-and-white jersey.

Canning’s arrival on the senior inter-county scene was well flagged when he was just a teenager but the pressure ramped up further every year, even after his wait for a coveted All-Ireland SHC medal finally ended in 2017.

The 32-year-old loved “90 per cent” of his time with Galway, but the remainder often wore on him as the burden of ‘The Joe Show’ was never far from the surface.

“Ninety per cent of the time it probably was enjoyable. There’s no point in saying it was the best years of my life, it was 90 per cent of the time. Looking back, I’ve won everything that there was to be won,” Canning told independent.ie’s Throw-In podcast.

“The only thing I don’t have I think is an Under-14 All-Ireland so when you look at those kind of things, you think, ‘what’s not to enjoy?’ but the pressures and that of always having to perform on the day, that’s one thing that I won’t miss, I won’t mind seeing the back of that.

“That (the burden) was huge. I don’t know if I gave it off because I was pretty laid-back but that was always in the back of my mind. It wasn’t overwhelming, I learned to deal with it, it was from a young age, 15 or 16 that I had that so I kind of learned how to deal with it.

“But then when some other stuff, the social media world and stuff was harder to deal with at times but that’s just part and parcel of the GAA at times, it was probably easier to deal with it at the start than in the last couple of years.”

While it may have often hung like a weight around his neck, he would never change the sacrifices he made to hone his craft.

“Some people thought I was good, some people thought I was sh**, that’s everybody’s opinion. I worked hard at it, it’s not as if it was just given to me, I worked my a*** off trying to be the best that I could be for so long, so no I wouldn’t change it,” said Canning.

It says a lot about Canning that he pinpoints the free that dropped short in the dying seconds of the 2018 All-Ireland SHC final against Limerick as the moment he would most like to relive from a stellar Galway career.

There were numerous moments of euphoria during his iconic playing days, but it’s telling that a negative one should stick in his craw while his current base in Limerick hardly helps matters.

“Probably that last free in ’18, probably strike it a little bit easier. I tried to hit it too hard and kind of mishit it a little. Or maybe if I played it short and got it back,” he said. “If I meet a new Limerick person down here they remind me of that so that’s one that I’d love to relive and hopefully have a different outcome of it.

“I’d rather have more happy memories and you change something that was bad, but that’s one that definitely got away from us. We just didn’t perform on the day and made a lot of mistakes, all of their goals were nearly unforced errors and that’s the one that was hardest to take and still is.”

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Canning has been keeping a low profile since hanging up his county boots less than a month ago after Galway limped out of the championship, but he has no intention of glancing back on his highlight reel any time soon.

“No, no, no, I’m too busy back with the club and I’m nearly training more with them than I did with the county,” he said. “After we got beaten by Waterford, I was going training and I was out home and Mam and Dad were like, ‘Oh, enjoy retirement now’. I just looked at them, I was togged out in Portumna gear and thinking ‘Oh, this is some retirement – going out training again’.”

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