Galway must learn lessons from final defeats - Moore
The morning after an All-Ireland final defeat is often a time for solemn reflection and big promises.
In the Galway hotel yesterday, the scenario looked familiar to Fergal Moore. He could see the same glum expressions and bleary eyes on those who populated the lobby. He could throw his mind back three years to the wake of the 2012 decider and recall the oaths they had made to come back the following season and go one better.
It's not lost on Moore (below) that it took them three years to return to an All-Ireland final.
"We always have the talent, it's just a matter of putting together a strong, consistent year," said the former Galway captain who featured off the bench in Sunday's final.
"But we've been down this road before. We were there in 2012 and we stood here in the hotel the morning after and said we'd be back the next year. That's easy to say. But it took us three years to get back there. We have to come back down to earth.
"We had a fairly good year but we still have no silverware to show at the end of it. We have to regroup now, get back to club hurling and then we have to set our sights on next year again.
"We have to drive on from here because we've been down this road many times before in Galway and we haven't driven on. I think it's time we learnt the lessons now."
History suggests Galway will only learn the hard way. In the years they have reached All-Ireland deciders, they have fallen flat the following season. Summoning the fury of the year before has been beyond them. The defeats seem to suck the life out of them for the following season.
"Every time you lose a final it's just sickening because you're as well off being beaten in the first-round. You're as close as that but at the end of the day you're in second place and you might as well be in 10th place. Look, we were there, we got more experience into the younger lads so you have to take the positives out of it. But I think what's more important for us now is that we take the learning from it.
"If we take the learning and we put it to good use then we'll have a chance going forward but if we don't then we'll end up where we did after 2012."
Galway showed signs that they could fly at Kilkenny's altitude. In the first half they hurled with rage, calm minds and delicate wrists. When the squeeze came on they just couldn't get enough air into the lungs. Getting to the stage where they can sustain it for a whole game is their next target.
"We did an awful lot of the hurling in the first half, we did an awful lot of good things but we didn't probably make it show on the scoreboard and Kilkenny hung in there.
"When they had their purple in the second half they scored heavily and that was the difference between the teams; when we were on top we didn't score heavily enough and when they were on top they made it count on the scoreboard and that's just experience and knowing how to grind out results. They showed again yesterday why they're champions for so many years.
"It's very disappointing but I think everyone realised we were beaten by a better team on the day. I don't think there were any hard-luck stories, just overall very disappointed and just a sad way to end the year really."
Time is on their side with the bulk of the squad fitting the right age profile. Manager Anthony Cunningham was handed a three-year term before the start of this season and he insisted afterwards that this team would win the All-Ireland.
"You have to say that, don't you? You have to think that every year that you start out. Everyone that starts training in October or November thinks that they have a team good enough to win the All-Ireland but we're kind of sick of hearing that in Galway now, to be honest.
"I'm a long time with the team and we have a team good enough to win it every year but yet we haven't won it. We have to deliver on the talent that we have.
"It's all about being consistent, year in, year out and that's one thing we've failed to do and that's one thing we have to focus on for next year."
And as for Moore himself, he has no intention of walking away.
"It's very early days. We'll have to digest this and let it settle down. I think everyone is just looking forward to playing a bit of club hurling, a bit of normality, and once you come down from the hype and where we've been the last while, there's loads of time to analyse that but it's no time to be talking about that now. I'll be there as long as they'll have me, chasing that medal. There's no worries about that."