Sportsnewsireland caught up with Joe and Ollie Canning of Galway,at the launch of the Ladbrokes.com Irish Greyhound Derby at Shelbourne Park on Thursday.
As last years Derby first and second, Tyrur Big Mike and Tyrur McGuigan were both Galway bred litter brothers, race sponsors Ladbrokes decided to ask the well known hurling family to promote this years event.
The focus of attention was still very much on hurling and last weekend’s shock defeat to Dublin in the Leinster championship. Both men were anxious to give Dublin the credit they felt they deserved for the victory. “Dublin have only lost one match all season, to ourselves in the league. They beat Kilkenny in the league final and drew with them in the earlier stages of the competition” said full forward, Joe.
His brother Ollie also thought that Anthony Daly’s side have not been given the recognition they deserve for their progress this season. He said that “People read too much into the Galway defeat and didn’t stop to think about the team that beat them”. Again, he pointed out that the Blues had beaten Kilkenny twice(including the Walsh Cup Final) and have been making giant strides in recent seasons.
Much has been made of the criticism that the team received prior to the game from three well known ex players, and Ollie Canning feels that the outspoken comments didn’t help. “I don’t think the team would have taken too much notice of the comments but at the same time they were very strong words. While I would agree that the lads made a couple of valid points, on the whole their statement lacked credibility”.
Both men agreed that Kilkenny would have to be favourites going in to the Leinster Final, although Ollie was quicker to nail his colours to the mast and plump for a Cats victory.
He said “Kilkenny lacked a certain leadership up front this season and the return of Henry Shefflin and Richie Power would make a huge difference to the team. In a reversal of fortunes from the league decider. Kilkenny now have the stronger fifteen,while Dublin are struggling with injuries”.
Ollie felt that the cats would have “a sting in the tail” after their league final defeat and would be keen to avenge this setback. He thinks that Brian Cody’s side would win by a couple of points on the day and prove that they are still the team to beat.
Younger brother Joe, also felt that Kilkenny would be out for revenge in the Leinster Final: “Kilkenny don’t like losing and it doesn’t happen very often. They will see the final as pay back time”. The loss of Stephen Hiney and Tomas Brady was also a huge blow to Dublin and Joe felt that the former had been Dublin’s best player in recent seasons.The two men agreed that at the present time it was difficult to look beyond Tipperary or Kilkenny for the All Ireland winners. Ollie felt that Tipperary may just shade it, having learned so much from previous defeats to the Cats and finally gaining their revenge last season.