Henry Shefflin: 'Limerick, they’re true champions. We really went at them. I couldn't ask for more'

The Galway boss saw his team push the champions all the way today in Croke Park.

Henry Shefflin and John Kiely after the game.
Henry Shefflin and John Kiely after the game.
Image: INPHO

HENRY SHEFFLIN HAILED his Galway players for producing a towering display in defeat in today’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Reigning champions Limerick eventually prevailed by three points, Galway left disappointed with the outcome but Shefflin was proud of how his players performance.

“Especially coming up against such hot favourites, you speak a lot about getting a performance – that’s what we needed. And then you get the performance and you don’t get the result and, you know, sport is cruel.

“So yeah, it’s just very disappointing. You give it absolutely everything, and then it’s all just over and you just come up a little bit short and there’s a lot of ifs and buts. We said we wanted to do ourselves proud on the field today and I think we achieved that.

“But look, to be fair to Limerick, they’re true champions. We really went at them, and it was only that last phase – their bench obviously made a bit of an impact and pulled away a little bit.

“I couldn’t ask for more. I thought they gave a massive performance.”

Galway’s hopes of victory were intact throughout the second half but the largest advantage they enjoyed on the scoreboard was a single point.

“We couldn’t seem to get that bit of momentum to get two or three points (ahead), we never got that flow, to get that little bit of a gap there,” said Shefflin.

“Our shooting efficiency let us down. We knew we’d have to take a lot of shots from mid-range, but obviously you’re hoping some of them go over. And then I think we coughed up a few silly points in the first half.

“I think when you go into a group of people that I went into, and obviously ye would have been around some of the performances last year and you’re kind of saying, ‘Where are this team at?’

henry-shefflin-during-the-second-half Henry Shefflin during the second half. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’ve often referenced it to the lads, I probably wasn’t quite sure myself. But we went down to Limerick in the national league, and that night I came out of Limerick saying, ‘Jesus, do you know what, there’s something in this group. And I think we can say that again today. Obviously, look, we’d just love to be in the All-Ireland final because that’s what those players want to do.”

Shefflin was visibly frustrated during the second half with some of referee Thomas Walsh’s decisions, he was shown a yellow card at one juncture along with Limerick coach Paul Kinnerk, but after the game he was magnanimous in defeat.

“Look, I’m not going to come out … to be fair, Limerick won the match and (they’re) the better team. I did feel there was a ten-minute, 12-minute spell in the second half there, after we got the goal, that there were a few marginal calls that didn’t go our way, yes. But look, in the overall context of the game…, it comes and goes a little bit, to be fair. I do know we had a very good opportunity to beat the double All-Ireland champions, and we just came up short.”

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darren-morrissey-dejected A dejected Darren Morrissey after Galway's defeat. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Galway were forced to start without defensive stalwart Gearoid McInerney due to injury.

“I think of someone like Gearóid McInerney, who got injured two weeks ago and was available for selection and pushed himself and did everything – I don’t know what he was doing; he was icing and in cryochambers. That’s what these players do behind the scene and they put in a massive effort and go out and play in a colosseum like that and in an atmosphere like that. I just hope the players who were out there on reflection say that they enjoyed the occasion. That’s very important as well.”

“I think when we started first, Covid was very much to the fore but the relationship between the group became very, very strong and even for myself and Richie (O’Neill), our connection with that group of people and the county board has become strong over that period. That’s what it should be about. It’s a sport and you go out and give it absolutely everything. I’m happy because their families, wives and partners have put in a lot of effort as well and they get to see the performance on the field.

“Look, it’s devastating for the lads who didn’t get in. It’s devastating for the lads who train hard all year that ye don’t even see togged out. It’s hard but that’s what sport is supposed to be about – the hard yards and taking the losses and seeing how you can bounce back from it.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Croke Park

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