Cunningham: Canning was actually lauding Shefflin

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham last night moved to defuse any ill-feeling there might be in Kilkenny over a remark passed by Joe Canning last week in relation to Henry Shefflin, the Irish Examiner has reported.

"Not sportsmanlike" was how Galway’s young star had described the action of Shefflin in running "30 to 40 yards" to remonstrate with refereeBarry Kelly over the awarding of a Galway free.

Far from wishing to denigrate the Kilkenny legend, however, saidAnthony, Joe was in fact paying respect to Henry.

"Any player worth his salt — and we would want them as well — would challenge a referee over a free. We have all played the game and you do that, we’re all fighters on the field in the proper sense of the word.

"That [term] might have been unfortunate; the overall theme of the interview was really a promotion of what is best in the game vis-a-visleadership. In the context of the whole audio of that interview Joe was in fact praising the leadership of HenryShefflin."

Henry was also doing exactly what he would expect his own players to do, added Cunningham: "What we would look for from our players is to be leaders like Henry was that day. It was probably the finest bit of leadership that you could see in its execution and he dragged Kilkenny back into that game.

"He wanted the ball and it’s something that we’ve asked of our players, to show leadership like that.

"His [Shefflin’s] record speaks for itself, the likes of Henry in our lifetime might not be seen again or be matched — he is not called ‘King Henry’ for nothing."

Cunningham also vehemently denied that Canning was acting under instruction in that interview, taking the psychological battle to Kilkenny.

"That is not what the three boys here are about," he said, indicating the other two members of the management team, Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert: "If someone wanted to think that, it would be disappointing from our point of view — there was no set-up."

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