Galway manager Shane O'Neill declared he was proud of his team after they pushed his native Limerick all the way in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final.

The Tribesmen lost by three points after almost 80 minutes of combat at a misty Croke Park.

"We're all absolutely gutted. We’re trying to lift the lads some way but I don’t know how yet," O'Neill told RTÉ Sport.

"It was an epic battle between two ridiculously good sides. It was extremely tough throughout for both sides, extremely physical, there wasn't much space and it was a credit to the boys to actually exploit it.

"I didn't think there was much difference (between the sides) at all, to be honest with you, and I thought that was reflected on the scoreboard.

"We were down maybe five at one stage but came back again, which is testament to the boys. They just dug it out and kept going and going.

"It makes me proud what they achieved out there with the performance."

Cathal Mannion was forced off in the 24th minute

Galway lost one of their scorers in chief, Cathal Mannion, to injury before half -time while Joe Canning missed the closing stages after leaving the field on a stretcher.

O'Neill had no update on Canning's condition but he was believed to be have spent time in hospital before being released last night after suffered a concussion.

The manager, who has overseen two wins and two defeats in his first year in charge, admitted that his team had struggled to create goal chances after scoring three in the quarter-final win over Tipperary.

"Cathal was a loss, yeah, but when you look at the substitutes, they were fantastic when they came on, every single one of them," said O'Neill.

"I'd have to look back at it to see but I don’t think enough ball went in to the full-forward line at times."

Galway started well and led by five points in the early stages but Limerick took control either side of half-time before a late rally from O'Neill's side.

"When you're playing Limerick you have to target every minute, so we didn't necessarily go straight at them from the first minute.

"We tried in all our games, we tried against Tipp and we tried against Wexford. It isn't that you can take your foot off the gas at any particular time, just concentrate on the start and cruise through, it just doesn't happen that way with the quality of opposition.

"They were (very good in the second quarter) but then we got the last two points and there was only two points in it so we were really happy at that stage."

Éanna Murphy made three important saves to keep his team in the game but Galway were turned over repeatedly on their puckouts as they kept Cathal Mannion back as a sweeper and tried to avoid getting outnumbered on restarts. 

"He had a couple of very good saves near the end alright," said O'Neill of his goalkeeper.

"At half-time, we were plus two on our puckouts and it wasn’t something we were overly concerned with. Given the opportunity to vary it up, that’s what we tried.

"We ended up losing the game by three points."