Galway manager Henry Shefflin looks on anxiously during yesterday's Leinster final.
Galway manager Henry Shefflin looks on anxiously during yesterday's Leinster final.

Shefflin: 'We never got going'

By Kevin Egan

Given the recent history of close and competitive games between Galway and Kilkenny, not least this year’s Leinster championship round robin clash in Salthill, it was no surprise that Kilkenny were ready for a tough, physical battle once the ball was thrown in at Croke Park yesterday evening.

Galway manager Henry Shefflin, who watched his side score at least 0-27 (or the equivalent) in each of their last four championship games, was surprised however at how his team never looked like matching his native county by bringing their best game to the provincial final.

“It’s hard to put into words, because we didn’t see this coming” was his immediate response to Kilkenny’s 0-22 to 0-17 victory.

“We performed fairly well in the round robin, we topped the group and probably should have had all the points. There was a good energy about us, there was good work rate, there was good intent in everything we did, there was intensity all over the place, and training has been good the last couple of weeks. So I definitely felt that we’d get a performance. Whether it was going to be good enough, that was going to be down to Kilkenny, but that just never happened.

“As disappointed as we were at half-time, we probably felt that we were in an okay position, but we never got going, never came at all.

“Even with 45, 50 minutes gone, Kilkenny are a couple of points up, you’re kind of waiting for Galway to come and they just never came. That’s a reflection of Kilkenny as well to be fair, they did their defensive duties very well and they were just getting into the breaks better than ourselves”.

The result means that Galway have two weeks to recover before taking on an All-Ireland quarter-final against the winner of next weekend’s game between Cork and Antrim. Whether it’s the Rebel County, on the back of consecutive wins over Waterford and Tipperary, or an Antrim side that have just secured their place in the 2023 Leinster championship by winning the Joe McDonagh Cup, Shefflin knows that a repeat of yesterday’s performance simply won’t be good enough.  

“Truthfully, if we perform like that against any team in two weeks’ time, we will not win” was his summary.

“So it’s hurting tonight, it’ll hurt tomorrow, and then you just get back on to the training field next week, and you need to bring that hurt to your performance because we can talk and say all the words that you want to, but you just have to perform when the white ball is thrown in” he concluded.