FOR quite some time now we have marvelled at the striking and scoring ability of Joe Canning.
One of the great forwards of the modern era, apart altogether from being a great artist of the game, he is one of the best deal ball specialists of all time.
There are quite a few of them among us right now, our own Patrick Horgan, TJ Reid, Waterford’s Stephen Bennett and the injured Pauric Mahony.
Aaron Gillane is quickly establishing himself too in that department and so on last Sunday at headquarters, Canning had a very mixed day, unable to finish the game and being taken off on a stretcher with what appeared at the time to be a very worrying injury.
Thankfully, it wasn’t and he is now recovering fully.
However, before he departed he had a haul of points attached to his name, four of them from sideline-cuts. All four were sublimely converted and that quartet of scores brought his SHC sideline cut tally to 28 points.
That is a phenomenal record for a player who has near perfected the art of splitting the posts from those type of situations.
Our own Mark Coleman is another player who has that wonderful ability as we have seen to great effect recently. Deccie Dalton is not too bad either when it comes to nailing scores from sidelines and when it happens it is a joy to behold.
In recent times there has been quite a bit of debate about rewarding these great scores with two points instead of one.
Quite a few were in favour of it; quite a few more not. So, should the successful execution of a sideline-cut be rewarded with two points?
There will be those that will argue that sidelines are not earned in the same physical fashion as a free. Often they can be won by a ball struck out over the sideline by a goalkeeper or by a deflection.
Last Sunday in Croke Park, Galway would have won the game by a point if two points were awarded for Canning’s sideline strikes. That would have been very harsh on Limerick because they were the better team even if they were not at their best.
Rule changes are being made all the time and it could be the case in the future that successful sideline-cuts will be rewarded by the awarding of two points. It’s a space to keep an eye on.
Another strong debating point at the moment is water breaks and whether or not they should be retained going forward. In some games this year we have seen a team with full momentum behind them suddenly lose the initiative.
Certainly, if a team is on a roll the last thing they want is a water break.
On the other side, the water break is very welcome and gives you a quick chance to regroup. We saw recently during one of those water breaks a team mentor producing a tactics board which should not be allowed at that juncture former Offaly great, Michael Duignan pointed that out on TV.
Water breaks are meant to be just that, not for tactical reasons and they are meant to be of a one-minute duration, not longer as they seem to be getting.
Surely after just 15 minutes of a game, there should not be a need for a water break? After all, there are plenty of water carriers available on the sideline if needed. It will be interesting to see what happens in this regard.
Finally, preparations for next Sunday week’s All-Ireland final between Waterford and Limerick are now at an advanced stage.
How different it must be in both counties without all the hype surrounding the big day, particularly the clamour for tickets. Players would love to see the fans back again but, at the same time, they must be delighted not to have to sort out the loaves and fishes of the ticket situation.
A Limerick-Waterford final would fill Croke Park twice over because you have a fanatical support base in both counties. It has been very strange being in and watching games on TV in empty stadiums.
And it will be even stranger still on the biggest day of all.