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'I would have taken a bit of stick over why Gearóid McInerney was there' - Galway star has come a long way

Galway's Gearóid McInerney, left, and Jason Flynn and (inset) Adrian Tuohy
Galway's Gearóid McInerney, left, and Jason Flynn and (inset) Adrian Tuohy

Conor Neville

Anthony Cunningham said it was very satisfying to see Gearoid McInerney come through and deliver a towering performances late in this year's championship.

But the former Galway manager played down his own role, asserting that everyone who's been involved in nurturing the Galway players played their part.

Cunningham managed Galway to an U21 success in 2011 and became senior manager at the end of that year.

In his first year, Galway stunned the country with a demolition of Brian Cody's Kilkenny in the Leinster final, famously leading by 2-11 to 0-1 after half an hour.

Cunningham brought Galway to All-Ireland finals in 2012 and 2015 but departed in acrimonious circumstances after the final loss.

Speaking on The Throw In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast, he acknowledged it was highly satisfying to see players like McInerney and Adrian Tuohy feature so heavily on Sunday.

In a county which invariably has scores of talented players shining at underage level these were hurlers who bloomed at a later stage and who he drafted in despite objections.

"Everyone has a connection to this team. It's not just me.

"I was privileged to work with many of these guys. I was there in '09, '10 and '11 when most of them were U21.

"Even in '14 and '15, I worked in development panels and introduced Gearoid McInerney and Tuohy as players on that team who needed a bit extra who needed to be involved first at development level.

"The fruits of that were very rewarding because I would have taken a bit of stick over why Gearoid McInerney was there. He was there because of his pedigree.

"He hadn't done as much hurling at underage as others. And it was very, very satisfying to see him coming through.

"But it's not me. And in fairness to Micheal Donoghue he referenced that. It's about all the past managers and all the past teachers of these players whether they had them at club level or underage or schools level. That's the beauty of the GAA. Everyone has a connection to them."

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