Anthony Cunningham has stepped down as Galway hurling manager.

This brings to an end a long-running saga that started shortly after Galway lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny in September.

The players made it clear to the county board that they didn’t want Cunningham, a double Liam MacCarthy winner as a player, to remain on as boss.

He dug his heels in and the board brought in outside mediators in the hope of brokering a peaceful solution.

But it emerged that the players passed a resounding vote of no confidence in the manager at a meeting on Sunday.

In light of this Cunningham has walked away ahead of Monday night’s Galway board meeting, where it was expected that clubs would have the final say on his fate.

He told RTÉ Sport: "I am extremely gutted and disappointed. I suppose the mind boggles. Just a few short weeks ago we were within half an hour of winning an All-Ireland final. It is heartbreaking really.

"I don't know where this has come out of. I'm being very genuine to the Galway supporters who had a tremendous year with us. I'm very disappointed for them also."

"It's for the best for Galway hurling really. Myself and my management team took the decision this afternoon. It is in the best interest for all parties. We couldn't get a resolution.

"There weren't any issues on the table really for us. It's best I stand aside and clear the pathway for success for Galway in the future."

Cunningham, who also led the Tribesmen to All-Ireland Under-21 success, had been in charge for four relatively successful seasons.

In his first year at the helm he led them to the 2012 Leinster title – the county’s first since their move east – and they only lost the All-Ireland final after an epic draw and replay with Kilkenny.

Neither 2013 or ’14 was particularly productive, though they were back in the MacCarthy Cup decider with the Cats last September.

They led that game at half-time, but were blown out of the water after the break and it didn’t take long for rumours of player unrest to emerge.

Galway, without an All-Ireland senior title since 1988, are now on the hunt for a new manager.

One likely candidate is Cuala boss Mattie Kenny.

Kenny was a selector under Cunningham in 2012 and he has guided the Dublin club to the Leinster club final against Wexford’s Oulart-the-Ballagh on Sunday, November 29 following their first county crown in 21 years.