Cunningham believes Galway can learn from Kilkenny loss
‘If we stay at the same level we won’t be back here . . . So we have got to work harder ’
Galway boss Anthony Cunningham believes his side can learn and improve from their All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny. Photograph: Inpho
Anthony Cunningham comes into the cold press conference room carrying a mourner’s look. Maybe it’s better to have hurled and lost than not to have hurled at all but Cunningham can’t find much solace in it.
Galway go home beaten yet again in an All-Ireland final and the fact they put it up to Kilkenny for much of the first hour means nothing now.
“No, I mean, to be honest, we are very, very disappointed. It is a difficult one in that we were in a very good strong position at half-time and just came up short in the second half in two or three different areas and were punished by an outstanding team really and a team that has massive hurling and massive hurlers.
“Our congratulations to Kilkenny. They punished us there in the second half. But huge disappointment and no fault to anybody really. We have to be hugely proud of Galway and this team and the effort we got all year and today. And that is why it is so hard.”
They led by three at half-time. Even when Kilkenny came out blitzing upon the restart, Galway were still just a point down going into the last 20 minutes. Cunningham would have taken your hand off going into the game to be in with that much of a shot. And yet it fizzled out into nothing ultimately.
“As time went on we panicked a bit and had a few bad wides. That is extremely hard to get better at but it is something we have got better at. It is within our grasp to win an All-Ireland. We are within inches of it. But it is how we react from it.”
Galway have been here before and Cunningham has been here before with them. In this room three years ago, plenty of the same words were spoken, some of them by the manager himself. Galway historically have had major difficulty in backing up a good year – which, all in all, 2015 has been for them. He knows the job now is to find a way to get something out of 2016.
“We have been here before and it took us a couple of years more than we wanted to get back here. But all in all we have to keep working. We got huge experience again at the top end of the championship. A day like today is when you only get to witness that. That is what we will strive to get back to. I have no doubt that these players, they will work hard and they will get there. We are just hoping it will be sooner rather than later.
“If we stay at the same level we won’t be back here. So we have got to work harder and get better but with the amount of players we have it is definitely within our grasp to do that and a huge amount of that is down to the players.
“I have no doubt that the system and professional we have is as good as what ever been there or will ever. Players have to kick on.
“But the way they have worked so hard to drive on; that is there. So I would be very surprised if we don’t kick on.”