Team player

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - The Shape I’m In - Irene Feighan

THERE’S luck and there’s tal­ent, and in rough-and­tum­ble con­tact sports one of­ten de­pends on the other. But for All-Star win­ning hurler Ol­lie Can­ning it’s all down to luck. He con­sid­ers him­self lucky to have re­mained largely in­jury-free through­out his play­ing ca­reer, al­low­ing him to con­tinue field­ing the sliotár aged 41 with his lo­cal club.

“In the last four or five years, I’ve been very, very lucky. I’ve missed very lit­tle through in­jury. I know of some peo­ple who when they get into their late 30s their bod­ies start to give them prob­lems with ham­string or knee in­juries, for ex­am­ple.”

Age, how­ever, does come at a cost. “As you get older you have to be more care­ful with the amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity you do. I don’t pick up too many in­juries. But if I do pick up one it takes me longer to re­cover,” says the Gal­way­man who played at se­nior county level for 15 years and now works as busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ager for Kirby En­gi­neer­ing and as a GAA analyst on Sky Sports.

Ol­lie Can­ning along­side fel­low GAA leg­ends, Sean Ca­vanagh, Michael Fen­nelly and Daniel Gould­ing have teamed up with Elec­tric Ire­land for this year’s ‘This is Ma­jor’ cam­paign as part of its on­go­ing spon­sor­ship of the GAA Mi­nor Cham­pi­onships. Fol­low the con­ver­sa­tion with the hash­tag #GAAThisIsMa­jor.

What shape are you in? I’m in OK shape. I’m still play­ing with my club Por­tumna, on the se­nior hurl­ing team. It’s about an hour’s drive from Gal­way to Por­tumna. When I’m train­ing I do that maybe three or four times a week. Typ­i­cally we have a 10minute warmup; 20 to 25 min­utes of ball work and drills; then we may play a train­ing game and we may fin­ish up with some sprint work. We would be ex­pected to do a lit­tle gym work on the side to keep our strength up.

What are your health­i­est eat­ing habits? My wife and I try to stay away from all pro­cessed food — eat­ing fresh is the way we go. We do some juic­ing as well. The in­gre­di­ents de­pend on what­ever fresh veg­eta­bles are in the fridge — car­rots, cel­ery, cu­cum­ber and so on. We add an ap­ple or car­rot for a bit of sweet­ness. And we put in some ap­ple cider vine­gar.

To be fair to my wife Áine, she has been a great sup­porter of my hurl­ing ca­reer . She would be very health con­scious about the fuel we put into our bod­ies

What are your guilti­est plea­sures? At the week­end we’re par­tial to a takeaway — ei­ther a

Su­per­macs ev­ery now and again or an odd time we go for an Asian takeaway. We like to go out with our friends, have a glass of wine. Life should be en­joyed — it can’t be all veg­etable juices.

What would keep you awake at night? I sleep very well. My wife says it’s like a su­per­power. Some­times I say good­night, she looks over and I’m fast asleep.

How do you re­lax? We live in Knock­nacarra in Gal­way, so we’re very close to the prom. We’re also very close to Sil­ver­strand beach — we could be down there in five min­utes. We have a lit­tle dog Odie, a bi­chon frise that we fos­tered from Madra, a dog res­cue group in Con­nemara. We bring him for walks. Some­times we go for a swim off the div­ing board at Black­rock in Salthill — it def­i­nitely makes you feel alive.

What’s your favourite smell? I like the smell of the sea around Gal­way. You can al­ways get the sea­weed off it, you get the salty air com­ing in from the sea.

What would you like to change about your ap­pear­ance? Dur­ing my hurl­ing ca­reer if I was an­other inch or two taller it prob­a­bly wouldn’t have done me any harm. Be­ing 5ft 9in you’re not the tallest man in the room.

When is the last time you cried? I’m not that much of a crier, to be hon­est.

What traits do you least like in oth­ers? I don’t like when peo­ple knock other peo­ple’s suc­cess. I think it’s an Irish thing.

What traits do you least like about your­self? Some­times I need to take my own ad­vice in­stead of giv­ing it to other peo­ple.

Do you pray? Not reg­u­larly. I wouldn’t be a reg­u­lar mass goer. But I do find that churches can be peace­ful places to get away and have a think about things. Churches can give you cer­tain com­fort.

What would cheer up your day? Win­ning the Lotto. Some good weather cheers up ev­ery­one’s day, es­pe­cially on the west coast where we get the At­lantic ocean blow­ing in storms and rain. And if the weather is good and the ground is dry — then you’ve got per­fect con­di­tions for hurl­ing.

“I like the smell of the sea around Gal­way”

Pic­ture: Sam Barnes/Sports­file

LONG GAME: Ol­lie Can­ning at the launch of Elec­tric Ire­land’s ‘This is Ma­jor’ cam­paign.

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