Galway manager Anthony Cunningham believes that the lessons he learned from this year’s All-Ireland club final can help Galway on Sunday.
Cunningham was in charge of Westmeath side Garrycastle, who lost the club football final replay to Crossmaglen, and he believes that his players need to forget about the first game and concentrate all their efforts on the replay.
“You really have to get rid of any notion of the previous game and concentrate on the next game. You can fall down. The goodwill around Galway after the last day is huge and that’s a warning sign really. You can’t believe that goodwill – you have to drive on,” Cunningham told the Irish Star.
That is the only parallel that Cunningham draws between the two situations he has found himself in this year.
“Garrycastle were probably an older team and Crossmaglen had a lot of younger players so were probably fresher. We got one chance to beat them. Playing an Ulster team in an Ulster venue (the replay was in Cavan) was difficult. They brought huge support and really circled the wagons. They were galvanised for that replay. I don’t think you can draw too many parallels there,” he added.
Galway are undefeated in the championship this summer and pulled off one of the shocks of the year by dethroning perennial Leinster champions Kilkenny. They have a second chance of knocking the Cats from their championship perch on Sunday and Cunningham believes that his players are learning from each encounter with their opponents.
“You learn so much from playing Kilkenny; we’d hope that with what we’ve learned in all the matches we’ve played we can be ahead of them in the 72nd or 73rd minute the next day,” he said.
Cunningham’s men are buoyed by their performances against Kilkenny over the summer and are full of belief that they can win their county’s first All-Ireland title for 24 years. They recognise the challenge that faces them in Croke Park but they are unfazed by what’s ahead.
“The confidence is huge. The players went straight into the match the last day and played very well. They have huge confidence but they’re up against fantastic players and you have to be at the top of your game to beat them. We are under no illusions as to what faces us but we wouldn’t be there unless we had good performances,” explained Cunningham.