Thursday 19 September 2019

Galway players lift the lid on reasons behind Anthony Cunningham unhappiness

Galway’s defeated players on the field after losing to Kilkenny in this year’s All-Ireland SHC final
Galway’s defeated players on the field after losing to Kilkenny in this year’s All-Ireland SHC final

Galway hurlers have insisted that their unhappiness with former manager Anthony Cunningham had nothing to do with player power.

In a letter to the County Board, released last night, the players revealed that they had refused to comment on the issue so far as they wanted to avoid "washing dirty laundry in public because we do not want to embarrass anybody or to make the process of moving on from this impasse any more difficult than it needs to be".

The Galway squad - many of whom are currently in Boston for the Fenway Park Classic exhibition game - insist that "dissatisfaction" with Cunningham's management arose before this year's All-Ireland final loss to Kilkenny, adding "most issues have been ongoing and growing over the course of the last two seasons".

"The players accept that some County Board delegates are worried that what they see as a function of the County Board - namely the power to appoint a manager - is being usurped by the players. The players are also not blind to the worries that County Board delegates have about player power. However, this is not intended as an exercise of player power," they said in their letter.

"The player ask the delegates to consider the issue in this light. We know the delegates want Galway to win the Liam McCarthy Cup in 2016. The players want Galway to win the Liam McCarthy in 2016 and are prepared to put much of their lives on hold to achieve this goal. The players' view is that the county is not best placed to win the All-Ireland next year if Anthony Cunningham continues to be team manger. We know other people may not agree with this opinion but with respect to anyone else's views the players are probably best placed to assess Anthony's performance as manager."

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The letter also revealed a specific incident which the players felt showed Cunningham's one-on-one interaction in a poor light.

"There is the story of one committed member of the panel who approached Anthony to ask what he could do to improve to give him a chance of making the 26 match-day squad.

"Anthony gave the player no clear coaching tips to improve but accused him of dragging down player morale within the squad.

"The player subsequently left the panel demoralised and shattered despite pleas from new playing colleagues to stick with it.

"This is just one example of what the players believe are very poor one on one interactions Anthony has with his players."

There was also an incident alleged by the players prior to the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway which, they felt, underlined why Cunningham's tactical approach was "not good enough".

The management told players in training that Pat Malone was the backs' coach. Seven days before the All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary we had our final training game before the match.

"Before the training game one member of the full back line was instructed by Pat Malone that his job would be to mark a particular Tipperary forward in the semi-final.

"That instruction was contradicted by Eugene Cloonan, the forwards coach, who told him he would be picking up a different Tipperary forward.

"Where success at inter-county level often comes down to marginal gains, the disjointed tactical approach of Anthony and his management team is not good enough."

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