Composure the key againSeptember 25, 2012 - 7:00am
The composure shown by his young players when they found themselves a point down to Kilkenny in injury time of the drawn All-Ireland Hurling Final has given Galway manager Anthony Cunningham huge heart as they prepare for the eagerly-awaited rematch with Kilkenny at Croke Park next Sunday (3.30pm).
While keen to play down both his own sideline confrontation with Kilkenny counterpart Brian Cody and the fallout from Joe Canning’s widely reported comments three days after the drawn game, Cunningham was in upbeat form as he prepared for the first replayed decider in 53 years.
“The lads showed a lot of composure and experience beyond their years. It’s something we have taken as a positive from the game and we’ll need to be at the top of our game the next day, that’s for sure,” said the Galway manager.
“It’s whatever team wants it the most the next day now. I know that’s a cliché, but that’s always the way in replays. Whoever grabs the initiative and imposes themselves most on the game will win it. There are no excuses. We’ve got to let the hurling do the talking, really. There will always be quite a lot of analysis, but it’s really the team that makes the most running in the match and forces the game that will win.”
Cunningham claimed that Canning’s criticism of Henry Shefflin had been misconstrued. He had listened to the entire transcript of what his star forward had said and felt that Canning’s comments had been taken out of context in elements of the print media.
“In the context of the whole interview, Joe was actually praising the leadership given by Henry Shefflin. It was one of the finest pieces of leadership you could see – he dragged Kilkenny into that game and wanted the ball so much. We’ve asked our players to show leadership like that,” said the Galway manager.
“Any player worth his salt will challenge a referee for a free or a point. We’ve all played the game. You look for any edge you can get. That word, ‘unsporting’, didn’t best describe the situation but, in the overall context of the interview, he was actually talking about what is best in the game regarding leadership. Probably in our lifetime, we will not see a player of Henry’s calibre again.”
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.