WHILE MUCH OF the focus leading into this weekend’s All Ireland SFC semi-final is centred upon how Cork will break down the dominant Donegal defence, the Rebels’ centre-back, Graham Canty remains locked on to his own end of the field.
The veteran defender is sure to come up against Tír Chonaill leading lights, Karl Lacey and Michael Murphy – players he’s familiar with from international duty – but he has signalled out Colm McFadden as the man who must be stopped if Cork are to make the All Ireland final.
“I think this year Michael Murphy was injured early on which affected him in terms of scoring.” Says Canty, adding: “McFadden does score a lot, he’s one of the best finishers in the country. If he gets decent ball, he’ll punish you every time.”
Canty has had his own trouble with injury over the years, but he has been fit and ready for this year’s two biggest games with a third around the corner.
“Just got a knock in training and wasn’t ready for the Clare game. It was a week later before I trained fully after missing the Tuesday and Thursday training after the Clare game. I had no problems for the Kildare game though.”
Touching wood, he later adds:
“Any year you stay injury free is a good one. The last couple of years have been tough in that regard. That’s sport. I’m 30 plus now and to be injury free and playing football is great. Some would say my career has been littered with injuries, maybe it has but I’m happy where I’m at now.”
The Bantry man knows it will take much more than just fitness to outplay Jim McGuinness’ side.
Canty, like his manager and many of his teammates, sat in Croke Park to watch the north-westerners face Kerry in the second act of the quarter-final double-header early this month. Canty remarked on the “very impressive” performance which unfurled before his eyes.
“They were able to move the ball brilliantly and turned defence into attack. We struggled with it that day above [the league meeting in Donegal]. Kerry struggled with it as well.
“They’ve great finishers up front in McFadden and Murphy, and McBrearty when he’s up there as well. Their accuracy and conversion rate is very high. They can kick scores from distance.”
It sounds like the full package, but Canty will be central to Cork’s chances. Not only keeping a lid on the green and gold attack, but also the balancing act of playing ‘quarterback’, picking out long passes for his own powerful forward line to feed off. One of his chief concerns when drawing back that right boot will be Mark McHugh’s ability to sniff out danger.
With sweepers, the 32-year-old concludes, “you have to make sure your decision making is spot on. But the reverse is [also] true. If you feel confident that you can hit the ball, you go for it.”
Having already enjoyed All-Ireland semi-final success, Canty knows what can be gained by ‘going for it’.