Galway boss Anthony Cunningham has claimed that his star man Joe Canning has nothing but the height of respect for Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin.

Canning added fire to Sunday’s All-Ireland final replay when he accused Shefflin of gamesmanship in the drawn game a fortnight ago.

But Cunningham insists there was no criticism of Shefflin intended by Canning’s remarks.

The Galway boss said, “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.

“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 Joe 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.

“We discussed the interview briefly and we said that this was praising Henry Shefflin, praising the leadership and the players of Kilkenny.”

Cunningham denied the fall-out from Canning’s remarks will have any effect on Sunday’s replay.

He added, “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.”

Kilkenny boss Brian Cody has also made his own moves to diffuse any Canning- Shefflin row ahead of Sunday’s replay.

Cody told the Irish Examiner, “I haven’t been reading the papers, which is no reflection on yourselves, of course, but I’d be very stupid to pretend I didn’t hear what was reported as said by Joe.

“It makes no difference in the slightest to me and has never been mentioned in our dressing-room. It’s not as if we all don’t know each other.

“I know Joe Canning and have met him many times. I would be absolutely certain that he has huge respect for Henry Shefflin, and I know for a fact Henry has huge respect for Joe.

“The words may have been said but there’s a context to the whole thing as well. I don’t know the context. I know that there is huge respect between all the players and I don’t know of any player who believes Henry Shefflin is unsporting.

“I know for a fact -- I don’t need to check it out -- that he doesn’t think that. He’s competitive, certainly, but it’s made no difference to us. It hasn’t been mentioned by anyone in our dressingroom.”

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