Galway emerged as real contenders for the All-Ireland title when they shocked Kilkenny with a fully deserved win in the Leinster hurling final on Sunday.
The westerners never let the All-Ireland champions settle as they recorded their first ever Leinster title success with the shock of the hurling summer.
Manager Anthony Cunningham produced a tactical master plan to dethrone the champions as Galway recorded the 2-21 to 2-11 win.
Kilkenny simply had no answer to Galway’s whirlwind start and managed only four scores in the first half as they trailed by 2-12 to 0-4 at the interval.
But boss Cunningham was at pains to insist his team have a bigger goal to chase as they look for All-Ireland glory later this summer.
He told RTE Sport, “We’re delighted to have won Leinster. It’s the end of that competition for us today and it’s history. But we’re in a new series now which is the All-Ireland series and it’s knockout from here on out and we’re going to have to be ready for that.
“It was a great start against Kilkenny. We’ve been going well in training and we’ve put a huge amount of work into this.
“I think the guys have the skill and they have the hunger and they have the will to win and I just hope that from today they’ll learn as much as they can out there and use it to perfection the next day because we’ll need it.”
The Galway manager also had words of comfort for Kilkenny. “We haven’t seen the last of Kilkenny, and there’s a lot of big teams out there who will be now looking to go on and take our scalp the next day,” he said.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody told RTE Sport that his team were “wiped out” by Galway as they experienced their first championship defeat since the 2010 All-Ireland final against Tipperary and their first defeat in Leinster in eight years.
“I said before the game that on any given day they could beat us and we could beat them,” said Cody. “Certainly, they beat us today, beat us convincingly. Obviously, in the first-half they wiped us out, if you like.
“We regrouped in the second half and took the fight to them and we were genuine to the very end. That’s sport, it’s very hard to explain these things and I don’t have the explanations, I don’t have the answers.”
Like his manager, Galway captain Fergal Moore has set his sights on the ultimate prize after downing the All-Ireland champions.
Moore said, “There’s only one cup that everyone wants to win at the start of the year when they go back training in January and that’s the Liam McCarthy.
“It’s hugely satisfying beating Kilkenny and winning Leinster. But the year can’t be about the Leinster title for Galway -- 2012 can’t be about making history in a Leinster final.”
Having conceded seven goals in their previous two games, Galway were determined to get their defensive house in order on Sunday. They were also intent on shutting Kilkenny out of the game from the outset.
Moore added, “We were probably guilty in other games of switching off when we were 14 or 15 points ahead. It helps to sharpen minds when you’re marking the top six forwards in the country.
“The biggest difference was right from number 15 back to number one we defended as a unit. The work rate was absolutely phenomenal, the hooking and the blocking the forwards and midfielders did made our jobs very easy as defenders.”
DUBLIN hurling captain Johnny McCaffrey wants manager Anthony Daly to stay on for another year despite the bitter disappointment of Saturday night’s 1-16 to 0-16 defeat to Clare in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
Daly has admitted his future is unsure after Dublin’s season came to an abrupt end against his native county in Ennis.
But McCaffrey wants Daly to stay on. He told the Irish Sun, “We’d be hoping he does stay and will do all we can to convince Anthony to stay.
“If you look at how far he has brought us from where we were in 2008, the professional set up, the new players brought in -- everyone is onside and going in the one direction with a common goal.
“He has been brilliant to us and we definitely want the management team to stay on.
“I haven’t spoken to him yet. It’s still very early days and I think everyone needs to take a break for a few weeks and then hopefully we’ll get together to talk about what happened and look to the future.”
When asked about his own future after the Clare defeat, Daly said, “I don’t know to be honest with you. I didn’t know if it would be one or two years or what I’d be doing with Dublin when I met the lads over in Killaloe four years ago and they asked me to have a go at it.
“I’d never make decisions like that on the night of the game. There’s no point. You’re all emotional. There is plenty of time. There are more than me making that decision.