Ger Loughnane hits back at Ollie Canning and Galway's "mental fragility"

The war of words between Ger Loughnane and Ollie Canning looks set to rumble on

Ger Loughnane hits back at Ollie Canning and Galway's "mental fragility"

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ger Loughnane has fired back at Ollie Canning after comments he made on Off the Ball about the way in which Galway seem to lack the extra gear needed to beat Kilkenny. 

Speaking on Off the Ball, Canning said that Loughnane's analysis of the situation was wide of the mark, and that his comments labeling the team as gutless were totally wrong. 

Canning "You have to take some criticism as a player, that's the way it goes [...] but on your Twitter page there you had 'are Galway gutless?'. I think that's a real insult to put out there or for anyone to say that."

He added that Kilkenny are a phenomenal team who are incredibly difficult to break down, but that "when Ger was in Galway, a 10-point loss to Kilkenny was probably about the highlight of it."

Referencing the 2007 All-Ireland quarter-final with Kilkenny, according to Loughnane, was a mistake from Canning, as he responded to the former Galway hurler in The Daily Star on Friday, saying: "I just wonder did it even dawn on him just how much he unwittingly supported everything I said by referring to that match."

Citing that Galway also collapsed in that match, he added that "those final few minutes put into microcosm most of the ills that have hurt Galway's chances of success over the last 25 years.

"What is laughable is that the one man that cold have prevented that collapse was Ollie Canning himself. But he wouldn't play that year because of some perceived injustice following a stormy county final where Loughrea beat Portumna. Joe Wouldn't play either, giving the excuse that he was going on a world tour. I think that extended as far as Limerick."

Image: Kilkenny's Eddie Brennan celebrates scoring his second goal as he is trailed by David Collins of Galway
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Loughnane was referring to the 2006 county final, after which Loughrea were forced to deny that there had been any targeting of then-teenage star Joe Canning. 

Portumna coach Sean Treacy even noted that after receiving such rough treatment, "the way young Joe is feeling now, he may never play hurling again and who could blame him? He was butchered from start to finish."

Of course, Canning did return to the set-up, but Loughnane added that the decision to abandon the team when they could have stood up to be counted was the wrong call: "What was crazy about this stance was that one of our selectors was Portumna manager Sean Treacy - one of the best hurling men I ever worked with - and he was actually suspended by the County Board after that county final. 

Image: Ollie Canning takes to the pitch for Portumna at the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship. ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

"But he [Treacy] put the good of Galway hurling before his own ego and gave everything he had for the county's cause. So did Damien Hayes. He didn't bother with a self-indulgent sulk either". 

Although the clash took place the best part of a decade ago, Loughnane added he feels that game highlights what is wrong with the current Galway team, and shows the "soft underbelly" to hurling in the county.

Noting that he met with one of the players afterwards, he asked why there was no fight back after Eddie Brennan's goal, and Loughnane claims what he heard back shocked him so much that he wrote it down for posterity. 

"His answer was 'the game was over, so there was no point'. Remember, Galway were just three points down with eight minutes to go..."

Hitting hard with his final point, the former Galway manager added that the most recent loss to Kilkenny shows that it's the same issues again and again for Galway hurling: "Inter-club rivalries that are never really put aside in the county's cause, concentration on their selfish ego rather than good of Galway, and a mental fragility that I've never even encountered in schoolboy teams."