There really was no show like the Joe Show was there? I mean, where do you even start?
Joe Canning started hurling in my eyes in 2008, and that's really where I first remember him. I vividly remember him scoring that goal against The Rock, and for every game after that, for me, it was all about Joe.
I went to the All-Ireland Under-21 semi-final in 2010, where Joe scored 4-07 and Galway still lost. That was one of the most ridiculous performances I have seen live.
It was so good I remember going home and watching it again. He could do things with the ball that I believe nobody else could do. His skill was one thing, but his vision, and his hurling brain are just off the charts.
Joe went to college in Limerick, and was and still is very friendly with a number of lads that went to college with him who hurled for Limerick.
Because of this, I happened to be in Joe’s company on a number of occasions. I remember I was going to the gym near where I live, and afterwards I went in for a jacuzzi to rest up, and there was Joe sitting in the middle of it on his own.
I was star-struck, I didn’t know whether to go into it or divert to a steam room. Anyway, I went for it. That was in 2010/2011, and at the time we were after playing some cracking Harty Cup matches with Ard Scoil Rís, and Joe started asking me questions about it. Sure I was in my element, and he couldn’t have been any sounder.
A couple of years later, as I got older and bolder, I ended up doing a 12 pubs of Christmas in his company, again through the mutual friends, and while I could say we had a great night, that would be a lie as I actually couldn’t remember!
As a young lad growing up, to meet your hero and be chatting away like normal, it certainly taught me an important lesson as I started my inter-county career - always be humble.
In 2013, Na Piarsaigh reached our second All-Ireland club semi-final, against Portumna. They were a team on the road a while at that stage, and I thought we had a great chance coming into the game.
It was my first time playing against Joe, and at that stage it was all business! The same day, I was marking a lad called McEntee, he was full-back.
All I knew about him was his age, and that his best days were behind him. I thought I'd go in and swan about this ould lad now. Five minutes into the game he hit me an awful slap, fair and honest, turned around to me and say, ‘Hey kid, I'm a butcher back home, and for the rest of the game I'm going to go at you like I mince all my meat’.
Not many lads could get inside my head on a pitch, but one thing is for sure, he did!
As they say, the old dog for the hard road, and while Joe was in his prime, the rest used all their experience and beat us on the day.
After that I came across him on many occasions. He is the only player that I could actually consciously say, 'Galway are playing today, I want to sit down and watch Joe'.
It was never the game, it was about him.
He made a good comment the other day, saying "I am the same age as a lot of lads in other counties but everyone was wondering was I going to retire".
I wasn’t surprised by the news. Not his age, not his pace, and not even his mileage. That man has put up with so much mental pressure over the years. For about 13 years now, every single game he has played, he knows all eyes are on him.
Not alone that, but he has come in for some savage punishment. Every opposition that has come across him, have a plan to stop Joe.
If any oppurtunity came, he was targeted. He has probably got more belts than any other players in the game, and things got nasty for him in club hurling for a number of years. After a while, enough is enough, and a part of me would say while Joe will of course find it hard, there will be a lot of pressure off his shoulders now.
The image of him with his parents after they won the All-Ireland in 2017 is what it's all about for him, and I have no doubt that photo will have pride of place in his house. I was delighted to see him win his All-Ireland medal, but it was well deserved.
The Cannings are a remarkable family who have given so much to Portuma and Galway, and as one of the lads said the other day in a text, ‘it’s the end of an era’.
An era that I was so fortunate to witness, as we may never see the likes again. Thanks Joe!