Cunningham backs 'tired' Galway to hit summer stride
Galway hurling manager Anthony Cunningham has admitted his side suffered from fatigue during the early part of this season.
Cunningham made reference to tiredness after his side's defeat to Tipperary in the league on the Bank Holiday Monday in March and has reiterated that view ahead of the opening game of the defence of their Leinster championship title against Laois.
He feels the condition is evidence that they are still a "developing team," not nearly as seasoned as trailblazers Kilkenny, who have the capacity to win games all year round.
"We weren't as fresh as we wanted to be and felt tired," Cunningham acknowledged.
"We'd have been happy with the league form but unhappy with the last day (against Kilkenny) – I felt we were very tired. We paid for going Sunday after Sunday with a smaller number (of players) because the league is so competitive now that if you over-experiment you finish up with relegation. That's the big fear.
"We played Walsh Cup and Railway Cup as well. We changed it in some way (for those games), but we still brought in half the team to the semi-final and final. Then there was the club U-21 championship and the St Thomas' guys playing in a club final.
"There was a lot of action at a time of year when lads prefer to train or get stronger than actually play."
Galway qualified for a league semi-final against Kilkenny but lost and will have been out of competitive action for eight weeks by the time Sunday's semi-final comes around.
Cunningham admits it is a tribute to Kilkenny that they are able to get it right for games throughout the year.
"They're a seasoned team. For the most part 10 or 12 guys have been able to always get their timing right. They've been able to time themselves to play matches for the last 10 years," he said.
Being on the 'softer' side of the draw is something that Cunningham doesn't recoil from. In fact he embraces it as a positive.
"We'd be perceived to be strong favourites to get to a Leinster final, which is a good target to have. We can target one match and be fresh for that," he said.
Retaining the Leinster title is something Cunningham (below) says the players and management will be "putting our lives on the line" to achieve.
He has also backed midfield pairing Iarla Tannian and Andy Smith to work their way back into form after an indifferent league.
"The two boys are fantastic players and will play well in this championship, no doubt about it. What we're looking for is that there are more Andy Smiths and more Iarlas pushing hard," he said.
"That's really the kernel of it. It's how competitive our games are in training. We are happy with the form of some players definitely in the league.
"That's an example of a midfield pairing that did well last year, so they can get back to that form again."