An Interview with Ollie Canning ahead of the GAA Minor All-Ireland Hurling Final

Ollie Canning Shares His Insights on the Minor Hurling Championship ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland GAA Minor Hurling Final

After what has been an enthralling Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling Championship so far, we catch up with Galway’s Ollie Canning - who is this year’s Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards Judge. Ahead of what could be a Galway-double win this Sunday, Ollie gives his insights into what it takes to be a major contestant in the Hurling Championship and the major role of youth development in growing a dynamic skill base.

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1. Galway won both Minor and Senior Championships in 2017 and have a chance to do it again this year as both the Galway Minors and Seniors will be togging out together in Croke Park this Sunday. A huge part of the success of last year’s team was the injection of youth from previous minor teams. What advice do you have for young players trying to make an impact on the sport?

"My advice would be to concentrate fully on the grade that you are at, work hard on your skills and your attitude to continuously improve. There is a lot to learn at minor level before you progress to U21 or Senior and remember it’s a combination of your hurling ability and your attitude that will make you successful. Both need to be worked on constantly."

2. After 30 years what did it mean to the county and for the image of hurling outside Munster and Leinster when Galway’s long wait for Liam McCarthy success finally ended?

"For Galway to make the breakthrough after all those years was such a great feeling for everybody involved in Galway hurling. Galway were close to winning finals on a few occasions during that period but to finally get over the line was a mixture of exhilaration and relief at the same time. For Galway to make the breakthrough was also really positive for the hurling championship as this year has been so open with any number of teams in contention during the year. Looking back on the semi-finals it could have easily been a Cork Clare final next Sunday and that’s how close a number of teams were in this year’s Championship."

3. Galway spent 30 years without an All-Ireland yet they’ve been able to reassert themselves at the top of the sport in recent years. What major learnings can you share with other hurling counties in relation to the development of a strong county hurling scene?

"Galway have a strong base when it comes to schools and underage hurling in the county. It takes years of work at this level in the hope that you will get 30 players plus at a high enough standard to win an All-Ireland. Hurling counties need to invest at schools and underage level and have the commitment, enthusiasm and energy to see through a strategy that could take from 10 to 15 years to bear fruit at senior intercounty level."

4. This year, you’ve been selected as an Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards Judge. Why did you want to get involved with the Electric Ireland Minor Championships?

"It was nice to be asked to get involved as looking back on my own career, my involvement at minor level really gave me a taste of what it might be like to go on and play at senior level and represent my county at senior level. Minor level was really the stepping stone and a great base to have before I progressed onto the Galway senior panel and that’s why I think it’s so important for young hurlers on their intercounty hurling journey."

5. The Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards aim to highlight the exceptional performances of young players throughout the Minor Championships – Is there anyone we should be looking out for this weekend?

"With Kilkenny meeting Galway in the eagerly anticipated Electric Ireland All Ireland Minor Hurling Final it promises to be an absorbing encounter. Two players to watch out for are the Galway full forward, Donal O’Shea and the Kilkenny midfielder, Conor Kelly. Both players have been playing really well so for this year."

If you are going to this weekends GAA Minor All-Ireland Final check out our Championship Haircut where you can claim a free pre-game haircut 11:30am - 1:30pm.

Follow and be a part of the conversation around Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships on our Facebook page and by using the hashtag, #GAAThisIsMajor.