Hurling and camogie

Galway boss devastated but dignified in defeat

Galway showed great unity at the end in the All-Ireland SHC Final against Limerick - but just fell short.
Pic Philip Walsh
Kenny Archer at Croke Park

THE words came slowly, quietly – and almost stopped very soon. After the first question to Galway hurling boss Michael Donoghue there followed a deathly silence.

What could you say to him, ask him?

How to explain your team being second best across most positions, second best for almost all the match, particularly on the scoreboard – and still to lose by the narrowest of margins?

It felt like intruding on private grief. Donoghue was decent and dignified – but also desolate and devastated.

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Galway scored 2-2 in added time, and Donoghue admitted they might have forced a replay or even have snatched a sensational victory – with shades of 1994 surely entering Limerick thoughts – had their comeback started any earlier:

 

“Obviously, but that’s just the way it goes. All you can do is ask them to go to the final whistle and Joe [Canning] was probably a bit unlucky with the free.

“It would have been great to get it but those are the margins, we take it on the chin, we have no choice now, and just move on… unfortunately the finish line came too quick.”

One might have thought that, having ended their own drought last year after almost three decades, Galway wouldn’t have been as hurt by Limerick bridging their own 45-year gap.

Yet the Tribesmen might have been better off, might, strangely, have felt a bit better, if they’d been well beaten, as they probably should have been.

Nine points down midway through the second half, then eight behind again when Shane Dowling scuffed in Limerick’s third goal in the 68th minute, Galway should have been finished.

Far from it. Showing the character and courage that made them champions last year, and which put them back into this season’s decider, the Tribesmen closed to within a point – and did so again even after Graeme Mulcahy struck what proved to be the winning score in the 77th minute.

If there aren’t t-shirts and banner on sale in Limerick this morning proclaiming ‘Graeme, 3-16’ then there’s no entrepreneurial spirit in the Treaty County whatsoever.

There’s undoubtedly spirit in Galway, and Donoghue insisted: “I couldn’t be prouder of them. Anything we’ve asked of these lads since we came in, they’ve been top notch. They’ve been one of the top teams, they’ve been knocking on the door for so long.”

Having said that, he immediately had paid tribute to the new champions: “In fairness, firstly you have to take your hat off to Limerick and we have to congratulate them wholeheartedly.

“They came out and started really well and they played the game on their terms and we probably struggled a small bit to get into the game but all the credit has to go to Limerick.”

The Tribesmen’s chief pointed to that Dowling goal as the defining moment of this match: “The third goal was the killer…I think we had a bit of momentum coming back into it. It was just probably a killer punch at that time. The plan was obviously to work it out from the back and go through the lines, I’m not going to fault our boys for it.

“They worked really hard in the second half to put themselves back in the game. Huge credit to Limerick. They probably just had the edge on it the whole day and they’re deserving winners.”

The Galway boss made no excuses, concluding: “We didn’t hurl the way we want to hurl for periods in games. The lads worked really hard at the end of the game.

“My thoughts on the players aren’t going to change. Yeah, we’re bitterly disappointed.

“But what we achieved together and where we want to go, there’s huge unity, huge trust, huge collective in that group and they’ve shown massive resilience down through the years when they’ve had setbacks and I’m sure they’re going to bounce back again.”

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