Niall Canning, a young farmer and GAA enthusiast, is set to take on the biggest challenge his GAA career to date, with a game against the Dublin senior football team as part of the TG4 Underdog series.
The 29-year-old farmer, who helps his family run Sagesse Charolais near Rosses Point in Sligo, plays his GAA for his local Drumcliff/Rosses Point team and his family have had a winner in their Charolais winner every year since 2009!
The Bank of Ireland employee first navigated his way through a series of trial matches, before he was chosen in recent days to make the final panel to face four-in-a-row champions Dublin. Niall admits his journey in the programme was full of ups and downs, having travelled to one game in Kerry only to appear for ten minutes, while the Drumcliff/Rosses point man failed to receive any time on the pitch during another trial game.
“I can definitely say the experience has been full of ups and downs…I left Sligo one night after playing a club game at half nine on a Saturday night and I ended up down in Kerry at one o’ clock that night…We played the Kerry champions then Sunday morning…That day I only got ten minutes.” He explained.
“The next time we were in Meath and I was one of two players that didn’t get on that day…I just kept my head down and worked hard and just kept going.” Niall added.
This was not to stop the Sligo man, however, as he showcased his best self in a game against UCD. In the final episode before the game against Dublin, which was aired last night (October 18th), Niall finally received the reward for his hard work as he was named in the starting line-up for the final game against Dublin, taking the number 12 jersey and a place in the half-forward line.
“They named me as starting and I am number 12 on the team.” Niall told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“It is brilliant. Paul Galvin actually handed me the jersey…It should be a good evening…I am just delighted.” He added.
The Canning family’s famed Charolais herd also made an appearance earlier in the series, as Niall showed the dedication that goes into showing cattle. Niall admits, however, that farming has taken a back seat for the time being, with his father running the herd on his own in his absence.
“Fair play to dad he is looking after them (the cattle).” Niall laughed.
We previously interviewed Niall as part of our Young Farmer series, which you can read here.
What is the Underdogs? -
The Underdogs is a TV series which was relaunched on TG4 this year after a ten-year absence from our screens.
The aim of the series is to give aspiring footballers, who never previously made the senior panel, a chance to show that they are ready to make the step up to the senior level. The panel was chosen after two trial games back in September and has been dwindled down ever since by selectors Paul Galvin, Ray Silke and Valerie Mulcahy.
“To get the opportunity to be coached by Valerie Mulcahy, who won ten All-Irelands, Ray Silke the former captain of Galway and Paul Galvin, who needs no introduction, It’s just brilliant.” Niall said.
“To get the chance to play against Dublin, which some Sligo footballers will never get the opportunity to do, is just brilliant…It really hasn’t sunk it…It has just been brilliant.” He continued.
Former contestants on the show have gone onto represent their counties, while Kieran Donaghy and Pearse O’Neill, two former contestants, even went onto winning All-Ireland titles.
When is it and where to watch it -
The penultimate game takes place tonight, Friday October 19th, In Parnell park Dublin.
The game kicks off at 7:45 on the night, with tickets priced at €10 for adults and free for children under 16. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult and tickets can be purchased here. For those of us who cannot be in attendance, don’t worry as coverage of the match will be featured on TG4 starting from 7:20pm.
Niall said he is most looking forward to testing himself against the crème de la crème of the GAA scene, having always looked up to the footballers like Ciaran Kilkenny, Johnny Cooper and the Brogan brothers. The young farmer said his journey in the programme would not have been possible were it not for the support received from friends, family, his GAA club and work colleagues.
Although the team face a mammoth task taking on Dublin, Niall was certain in the teams collective goal.
“We are there to get the win.” Niall said.
“If we beat Dublin I will be hoping for the freedom of Sligo or something…I will also be asking Tara (Niall’s boss) for a few weeks off too”, Niall joked.
Niall will don the yellow and black of the Underdogs but who knows that may soon turn to the black and white of his native Yeats County. Best of Luck to Niall from all of us here at the That’sFarming team! Check out the video showcasing the series below!
Friday night lights in Parnell Park & the ultimate test for the @TG4TV #Underdogs. Tickets for @DubGAAOfficial vs Underdogs onsale now:— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) 16 October 2018
https://t.co/dmLPAQMwmT @SupermacsIRE @ballsdotie @hoganstandgaa @tickets_ie @GAA_BEO @starryboy14 @Hill16Army @offtheball pic.twitter.com/Yja7LMwnlN