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Micheal Donoghue: 'A lot of big players stood up and saw us home'

The Galway boss admitted he had “a little palpitation” when Aron Shanagher had a late goal chance for Clare.

Kevin O’Brien reports from Semple Stadium, Thurles

AL PACINO WASN’T wrong when he declared that “life is just a game of inches” in his famous Any Given Sunday speech.

Aron Shanagher can attest to that.

Aron Shanagher has his shot saved by James Skehill Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A week ago he was Clare’s extra-time hero, arriving off the bench in his first appearance since cruciate surgery to slam in a goal that helped them stay in the championship. After 67 minutes yesterday, Shanagher was sent through on goal by Shane O’Donnell but his first shot hit James Skehill and his second bounced back off the post. Small margins and all that.

Galway had scored just three second-half points from play at that stage and a third Clare goal in the half would have left them in front for the first time in the game.

From the next attack, Joe Canning stroked over a delightful sideline cut. That made it a four-point swing and Galway didn’t look back.

“I had a little palpitation alright when he got it,” Galway boss Micheal Donoghue said of Shanagher’s chance. “He’s a massive player for them.

“Made a huge impact last week. Made a great start when he got the point but I think our boys worked hard, identified the threat, worked in numbers. They are the fine margins.

Michael Donoghue celebrates with selector Noel Larkin after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Clare came back into it. I thought our boys showed massive resilience. When the need was greatest they stuck with it. A lot of big players stood up and saw us home.

“I’ve said it many a time, you’re not going to dominate a game for 70 minutes.

“Testament to Clare, savage team, massive players, they took their opportunities wonderfully. Our boys showed massive heart and resilience to come back. Those qualities are never doubted with them.”

Of Galway’s last five games, they’ve won just one by more than a point. Two have been drawn and two won by the minimum. Having taken a record eight games to get to the final, is he concerned they’ve gone to the well one too many times?

“Not at all,” replied Donoghue. “Games of that quality, you can’t replicate that in training. Hopefully that will stand to us in two weeks’ time.”

Canning echoed his manager’s sentiment.

“Those two matches the last couple of weekends are probably as good as 10 training sessions,” he reflected in the tunnel.

Clare posted 2-3 in the 18 minutes after half-time, but Canning pointed to Galway’s response as a sign of their character.

“We have a lot of leaders and we didn’t panic. We got the next score after that goal and we did that against Kilkenny in the Leinster final here, as well. And we did it last weekend when Aron Shanagher got the goal to go ahead, we drew it back level again. So that’s a good sign in a team; when a team gets a goal against you to get ahead that you answer back straight away with another score.

“It was a long five minutes [of injury-time] there at the end. Clare being Clare, you know they’re always going to go at you until the very end. You know, we were just lucky to scrape over, I suppose.

“Physically and emotionally, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. Just delighted we got over the line today.”

Joe Canning with Conor Cleary battle for possession Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Before he collected the man-of-the-match award on Sky Sports, Canning called out Galway’s “doubters” and he doubled down on that assessment when he spoke with the written media afterwards.

“We showed great character,” Canning stated. “We were only behind once overall in both matches I think. And we didn’t get a lot of respect during the week I think from media and such. Our character was questioned, I thought.

“People were saying we didn’t perform and stuff like that. But only being behind once in an All-Ireland semi-final over two games just shows the character we have.”

Limerick are the final obstacle between Galway and retaining their All-Ireland crown, but Canning says it’s “just another game.”

He went on: “It’s an All-Ireland final, two teams going at it. It’s nothing extra. We’re not going to treat it any differently. You know it’s going to be tough. No All-Ireland is going to be won easily and I’m sure Limerick are going to be the same come two weeks’ time.”

Donoghue is hopeful All-Star centre-back Gearoid McInerney will be fit to resume his role at the heart of their defence for the final.

“In fairness he did a lot of work. Hopefully, in two weeks’ time he won’t be too far away. He’s working really hard with the medics. We’ll do everything we can to get him on the pitch.

“It’s been a hectic enough schedule. Lads have picked up knocks. The turnaround time is a bit of an issue. Huge credit to our medical team for getting the boys out there. We have two weeks now to refocus.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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