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'I’m really enjoying the time up there. The way these players are responding has been brilliant'

Henry Shefflin was pleased with how Galway bounced back from their Leinster final disappointment.

Henry Shefflin celebrates at the final whistle.
Henry Shefflin celebrates at the final whistle.

HENRY SHEFFLIN ACCEPTED the air will get thinner when Galway meet Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final. 

The Tribesmen held off Cork in a tense finish to set-up a showdown with Limerick, who they last met in championship in the 2018 decider.

The Limerick juggernaut are chasing their third Liam MacCarthy in succession and Shefflin, whose Kilkenny team achieved that feat in 2008, understands the size of the challenge facing his side.

“Look, it’s massive,” he said. “We are drained after today, so the thoughts of Limerick straight away, it’s going to be difficult. We know we are the underdogs, they have a fabulous team and we seen what they did in the Munster final.

“We were so disappointed after our Leinster final performance and to turn on the television and watch the Munster final, my god that’s what we want to try and achieve. But we have a chance, we are there and we will learn a massive amount from today. We’ll try and recover and get ready for two weeks.

“We’re thrilled with today. We’re very mindful of what’s coming next but you have to enjoy these moments.

“We are not foolish, we are coming up against the All-Ireland champions going for three in-a-row so that’s the way it is, and that’s sport we love a challenge so let’s face it.”

Although they lost the second-half by four points, he was pleased that their performance levels lifted during that period. 

“We had three or four players cramping and you don’t want to be cramping against Cork players because they are so lively. Everyone contributed and that’s what you want from the team because I think that’s in the players.

“I must say I’m really enjoying the time up there. The way these players are responding has been brilliant. That’s why you hope they go out and give it everything they have. Anything more than that you can’t ask for.”

Shefflin felt the hangover from their poor showing in the Leinster final lingered into the early stages, even though Galway took a 2-6 to 0-7 lead into the break. 

“To be fair, the first half was two teams lacking a little bit of confidence. I think it was a cagey affair. I think the second half it definitely opened up a bit. I’m just thrilled with the character the lads showed because it could have easily went against us there.

darren-morrissey-joseph-cooney-and-fintan-burke-celebrate-after-the-game Darren Morrissey, Joseph Cooney and Fintan Burke celebrate the win. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

“In some big moments, big players stood up. For that, you have to be very proud of the way they performed. 

“I was obviously disappointed with the Leinster final but I think they were bitterly disappointed because they felt they didn’t leave it out there and that’s all you can ask for.

“This is what we all do it for, a tight, tense battle like that and coming out the right side of it, it is a good feeling. Unfortunately down in the Cork dressing room that is very different. It’s small margins. I was delighted HawkEye was here today because if it wasn’t we were obviously in bother.”

It was a game they led from start to finish but they were forced to withstand a late Cork rally. Shefflin praised the impact of his substitutes to help them over the line.

“We got a bit of an impact off the bench, which was great to see because we haven’t probably up to (now) this year. Jason Flynn got a point, Brian Concannon and Johnny Coen got a vital score.”

Cork manager Kieran Kingston was non-committal about his future in the wake of the narrow loss. 

“I’ve just come off the pitch and I haven’t even washed my hands yet. I went to the Galway dressing-room and spoke to our own backroom team, so I haven’t thought of anything.

kieran-kingston Cork manager Kieran Kingston. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

“Our focus was Antrim, then it was Galway – there was no thought of anything else. I don’t want any talk or speculation about me to take away from Galway’s win or from the character our group showed in the second half, and which I’m really proud of.”

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He admitted Cork’s high wide count and missed goal chances in the opening period proved costly. 

“We didn’t help ourselves in the first half, we had 24 shots and seven scores, so the efficiency was really poor. In that there were missed goal scoring opportunities who h we’ve been taking easily enough in the last few games, but today for some reason we weren’t.

“Credit to the lads, they created the chances but we we weren’t creating them. On the other side we got hit with a sucker punch with a goal in the opening seconds and another one later, but we were really in the game at half-time; though we were playing into the breeze we were only five points down.

“I thought the lads showed real character in the second half, they never threw the towel in, I’m as proud of them for reacting that way to the first half because they could have thrown the towel in after conceding soft scores and missing scores, but they didn’t.

“And I’m really proud they didn’t do that and they at least deserved a draw out of the game.

“Missing a goal, we never see that as a mistake if you’re doing the right thing and the shot is the right thing.

“A miss is a miss but I’d never criticise them for having a go.”

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Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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