Micheál Donoghue hopes Galway can improve
He had just watched his team fritter away a three-point lead in the dying minutes of today’s Leinster SHC Final, but Galway manager Micheál Donoghue was his usual even-tempered self after the match.
He admitted some of Galway’s play hadn’t been of its usually high standard, but was keen too to pay tribute to Kilkenny’s considerable efforts over the course of the contest
“Ah look, we knew coming up that it was going to be a fairly intense battle and that there'd probably be fairly little between the two teams,” said Donoghue. “We expected nothing less.
“Obviously coming up to the end when we were two or three points up, we were in a good position. But as I said, you'd expect nothing less from Kilkenny than to come back and fair play to them.
“We have the height of respect of them, they have quality players, they won the league and they had some massive wins in the Championship. We're under no illusions that they were going to be a big challenge.
“I think people write them off and think they're gone away, and that's not true, it's evident in their performances. As I say, we have the height of respect for them, we knew they weren't going to come here and lie down today, they worked as hard as expected them to.
“I have no doubt it will be the same next week. I think for both teams it will still bring them on and it will be another exciting encounter next Sunday in Thurles.”
Galway struggled to assert the sort of physical and aerial dominance that was their trademark when winning the All-Ireland last year.
Their first-touch was a little bit off what you’d expect from them at times too, but they were given very little time and space on the ball by the intensity of Kilkenny’s tackling.
“Look, it's probably been the most physical and intense game we've had in a long time,” said Donoghue.
“In that regard, when it is that intense you're going to be put under pressure.
“Some of our play looked a bit off at times. But that game will stand to us and we'll just look forward to next weekend.
“There's probably areas of it we could have varied it a lot more. Our game management probably wasn't as good as other days but you're going to have days like that.
“Once we take learnings from it, which we will, and analyse it going forward for the week we'll hopefully improve next week.”
As for Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, he couldn't have been prouder of his players for their effort throughout the contest and the way they pulled it out of the fire in the dying minutes with those three late points.
"Some of the players really stood up and played with terrific drive and leadership," said Cody. "Everyone on our teams played to a very good level. I would certainly be very happy with the performance of all of our players.’
"It was a very competitive game, very, very tight the whole way through. We probably had a couple of chances in the first-half that we could have converted but didn’t. But very, very happy with the lads, they were very competitive.
"With five minutes to go, they got a bit of breathing space, three points ahead which was a tidy lead to have but our lads got three great points to close out the game. So that’s it and we go again."