Galway manager Anthony Cunningham has insisted that Joe Canning’s remarks regarding Henry Shefflin were meant as a mark of respect.
Canning told the Irish Times last week that Shefflin was unsportsmanlike during the drawn All-Ireland Final, but his manager told RTÉ’s Brian Carthy that Canning’s comments were actually meant in praise of the Kilkenny man.
“In the context of the whole interview Joe was actually praising the leadership of Henry Shefflin. The way Henry has led the troops in Kilkenny is something we have talked to our players about," Canning insisted.
"Henry gave probably the finest display of leadership you will see from any player the last day. He dragged a lot of the players around him into the game and he orchestrated the play from centre forward.
"In (Canning’s) interview he was saying that this is the level we want to get to. It was probably unfortunate, maybe in a word used, that Joe did not portray the exact scenario that he was trying to explain. It was extremely small and should not have been taken in that way.
“In the context of the whole interview Joe was actually praising the leadership of Henry Shefflin" - Anthony Cunningham
“We discussed (the interview) briefly and we said that this was praising Henry Shefflin, praising the leadership and the players of Kilkenny.
Cunningham said the aftermath of the interview has in no way affected Canning or Galway’s preparations for the replay, but admitted that players may have learned a lesson from the whole affair.
“It is nothing more than a lesson to all our players of the way something can be reported differently from the scenario that was painted. That happens from time to time and we have to be able to deal with that, and always be aware of it.”
When asked about his sideline spat with Brian Cody in the closing minutes of the drawn final, Cunningham brushed it off as one of those things that happen in matches.
“There was no malice whatsoever. We were just arguing over was that a free.
“I certainly have the height of respect for the officials and the way they conducted their business the last day, and I’m sure Brian and Kilkenny are the same. It was a tremendous game, very closely fought and an excellent display by Barry Kelly.”