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Cunningham: We'll be back   01/10/2012

Galway boss Anthony Cunningham praised his side's efforts after their defeat to Kilkenny on Sunday in the GAA Hurling All-Ireland final replay, and while he admitted his side didn't get the breaks they needed, he also hailed Kilkenny as a 'super team'.

"We fought tremendously hard and we're extremely proud of our players for the effort today," he said.

"Even though we were four points down at half-time we thought we were well in it and had played very well in the first half. You know, you need to get the breaks to beat Kilkenny, to beat probably the best team that has ever come out of Kilkenny, you need to get all those chances. But we couldn't say anything but praise for our players. Kilkenny are a fine team. The best team won and we've no complaints."

He reflected on and rued the bad luck his side had with goal chances early in the second half which didn't go in, such as Joe Canning's shot which hit the post, but also admitted that Kilkenny's dominant period in the second half of the first half, which ultimately was decisive, had been helped by his own side's mistakes.

"Maybe we messed up a few balls that we didn't clear fast enough from the middle third, half back line. That happens as well, they probably outfought us. We fought back well again, got two great goals there in the first half, and were extremely happy.

"We had to drive on and in the first 10 minutes of the second half we drove on there and had a few chances that we could have got, that went a begging."

He said that the injury sustained by goalkeeper James Skehill before the game (he dislocated his shoulder on Friday) was not unsettling, and stood by his decision to start the Cappataggle man, despite the fact that he had to be taken off at half-time.

"I don't think so (that it was unsettling). It was expertly dealt with by the medical team on Friday night. He was unfortunate to have fallen awkwardly on his shoulder and dislocated it. But we had tremendous medical back-up.

"He did tremendously well to play the first half, and he got a knock on it when he fell awkwardly again. James will be back, there's no doubt about that. He gave us a tremendous year this year and probably needs a small bit of work, of surgery on the shoulder."

Cunningham said his side had come a long way this season, and was already looking ahead to next season, and the chance to improve further again.

"What we (the management team) will plan out for next year will be to kick on from today. There's always areas of improvement for any player and we will kick on and we'll work tirelessly for that. We've come so far this year, in such a short length of time but you can't train for the experiences of finals, but our hurling has come on so strong."

Cunningham also reserved special praise for Kilkenny, and the many stars who reached new levels of distinction in Sunday's final.

"Henry Shefflin winning his ninth medal. What tremendous players. Eoin Larkin, Richie Power. Their defenders, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, tremendous again. JJ. They're idols in our books and anyone who plays hurling, they are the guys that are at the very top.

"And it's some piece of consolation to be the second best team to this super team. We'll stay knocking at the door. We beat them in the Leinster final this year but we'll want to beat them in the All-Ireland next year, that will be our aim.

"They are tremendous athletes, and they're tremendous hurlers. They are just born to play hurling really. And when you love the game, same as us, we'd play hurling seven nights a week and we're I suppose, sad that we're not 21 again and be able to match them! You'd just love to be out there."

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