Galway manager Micheál Donoghue paid testament to his players after they fell one point short in a thrilling finish to the 2018 All-Ireland final.
The Tribesmen nearly pulled off a dramatic comeback against Limerick on Sunday in Croke Park, as they fought back from eight points to lose by the minimum as time ran out.
"I could not be more proud. Anything we asked of these lads since we have come in, they have been top notch. They have knocking on the door so long and obviously last year we made the breakthrough which is massive. There are a lot learnings we will take from the year in terms of how we prepared for the year.
They are a great bunch to work with and there is a huge understanding of the responsibility that goes with being involved with Galway. There are some massive leaders in there and all we can do any day is ask them to go out and give 100 per cent and they did and we could not be any more proud."
Donoghue pointed out a poor first half performance meant that Galway were always chasing the game.
They [Limerick] came out and started really well. They played the game on their terms. We just seemed to be struggling to get into everything [in the first half]. Sometimes games go like that but there was no panic at halftime and we were just trying to improve some of the areas we were focusing on. It was probably not until the last 10 minutes that we got a bit of a flow and then we got the sucker punch of the goal.
"But credit to Limerick, they worked really hard from the off and they got massive scores and even when we came back, even though it may have been down to a mistake on our behalf, when the opportunity presented itself, they took it and pushed on."
The Clarinbridge man highlighted Limerick's third goal, scored by Shane Dowling, as the moment that was the death blow to his charges' chances.
"We had a bit of momentum, coming back into [the game] and that was a killer punch at that time. The plan was to work it out through the back and go through the lines so I am going to fault our boys for it. [The players] worked themselves back into the game and unfortunately the finish line came too quick. But huge credit to Limerick who probably had the edge [on us] for the whole day and are deserving winners."