Cyril Farrell: Galway wounded by defeat but can build on positives for 2016
Published 07/09/2015 | 02:30
This was a tough one for Galway to lose, especially after a storming first half in which they took the game to Kilkenny and turned at half-time leading by three points.
The problem was they were up against a team managed by the greatest hurling manager in the game's history and we knew that Kilkenny would come out with all guns blazing in the first ten to 15 minutes of the second half.
Anthony Cunningham, his backroom team, and his players were well aware of that fact.
They could never have taken anything for granted but might have felt slightly more comfortable if TJ Reid's 13th-minute goal had not been conceded.
I have no doubt they did all they could in the dressing-room to be prepared for Kilkenny's intensity and wanted to extend that three-point margin to put it up to the champions.
Unfortunately for Galway, Cody's team got the upper hand in those vital early stages of the second half and drove on to dominate the match.
Joe Canning's goal came too late for Galway to change the result.
The more the game went on, Kilkenny more or less strangled the Galway attack.
They went up the middle, and didn't go out the wings hardly at all. That suited Kilkenny who got well on top and scored 14 points, which is an awful lot in the second half.
Quite simply, the best team won in the end.
From a Galway perspective, I would make three main points.
First, what the senior players might not realise is that the sooner they get back hurling with their clubs the better.
It's a tough one to take right now. What they need to realise is that the young lads on that team, such as Conor Whelan, by and large came through a huge test, and getting back to hurling is the best way to salve the wounds.
Second, I hope Anthony Cunningham and his backroom team stay in place.
They will hear plenty of guff and advice about what they should or shouldn't have done, and it's up to the county board to give them support.
Third, every effort must be made to bring Galway back to the All-Ireland stage next year.
I well remember my own experience when we lost in 1985 and '86 and finally got the big win in '87.
In '86, we lost every final we played in - Oireachtas, Railway Cup as Connacht, League and All-Ireland.
The following year we won every final we played in. There was not much different about us in '87. Possibly we trained a bit smarter and got one or two players from the 'B' team, but it wasn't a lot different.
As we have seen from Clare, Cork, and Limerick, it's not easy to guarantee a step up after a strong season.
Clare won a final in 2013, Cork almost won in '13 and lost in a replay. Limerick were strong last year and kind of went away this year, so it would be a shame if Anthony and his men were not around to build on what they achieved this season.
There will be plenty of food for thought in Galway over the winter. They did so much that was good in the game for a long period and while statistics aren't everything, they do show that chances were there.
The RTE stats people showed that Galway had 12 wides to Kilkenny's eight; that Kilkenny converted 23 of 34 scoring chances, while Galway converted 19 of 37.
In percentage terms, Kilkenny's ruthless efficiency, even on a tough day against a very committed and hard-working opposition, saw them through by converting approximately 67pc of chances compared with Galway's almost 50pc.
From play Kilkenny scored 16 of 23 opportunities, while Galway converted 10 of 19. That's what wins and loses All-Ireland titles.
What those statistics show is that Galway made the chances and had the chances to score.
When the dust settles Galway should take heart from the season and the motto must be 'never say die'. They can be a force again in 2016.