Flynn and O Se eager for return to the top
IT'S Donegal's time but the others are watching, waiting and plotting.
Several of the Donegal team will play in tonight's All Star exhibition game at Gaelic Park, New York, coming back into contact with some of those they outwitted en route to All-Ireland glory.
There's a great swagger about the whole Donegal scene right now, but they recognise just how difficult next year will be as they bid to become the first county since Cork in 1990 to retain the All-Ireland football title.
Kerry's Marc O Se and Dublin's Paul Flynn know first hand the difficulties that arise for teams chasing the two-in-a-row. They too will be in action at Gaelic Park tonight but already have one eye on 2013 as Kerry and Dublin prepare for the hot pursuit of Ulster's finest.
They will do so under new management and with an unyielding determination to return to peaks that remained clouded this year.
NEW MANAGERS, FRESH STARTS
O Se: "You always look forward to the start of a new season and, with a new management in place, you have to prove yourself all over again.
"When Paidi (O Se) went and Jack (O'Connor) came in there was a freshness around and it was the same when Pat O'Shea came in. You have to show the new man what you can do."
Flynn: "It's all about proving yourself again. It's like anything in life, a new job or whatever. You have to prove yourself to the new boss. What's gone before doesn't count all that much."
NEW MANAGERS, FAMILIAR FACES
O Se: "I'd know Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) well but that won't make any difference. Eamonn can be tough when he has to be and he'll do whatever it takes to get Kerry over the line. If that means dropping players he was friendly with, he'll do it.
"People say he's young to be a manager, but there are a lot of managers who came in young and did the job well. He's one of those fellas who leaves no stone unturned – hopefully that will be good for Kerry."
Flynn: "I didn't play U-21 under Jim (Gavin). Paddy Canning was our manager then. Jim came in a year later. From the little bits I've seen (with Jim), I'm very impressed. We can't wait to get started with him."
2012 – OPPORTUNITY LOST OR NOT GOOD ENOUGH?
O Se: "Hindsight is a great thing. When you look back, maybe players had gone a bit stale. We certainly weren't playing to the best of our capabilities. We were playing okay at times but that was about it. We did very well against Tyrone but that was probably the highlight of our year. We weren't good enough on the day against Donegal."
Flynn: "It was a disappointing year. I think you have to take the hurt and use it to your advantage next time. You remember how bad it felt to lose a game like the All-Ireland semi-final and try to use that as a motivation for next year."
2011 ALL-IRELAND FINAL: SHARED OCCASION, DIFFERENT MEMORIES
O Se: "We were flying for 65 minutes and then things fell apart. It was very disappointing but it doesn't mean we became a bad team all of a sudden.
"The hard ones are the ones that you feel you possibly should have won, like last year. I have no problems with 2005 against Tyrone or even 2008 against Tyrone, but the hard ones are the ones where you feel, 'we should have won that'."
Flynn: "Obviously, it's a day we will always remember, especially the way we won. Coming after so much disappointment it brought a great sense of relief that we had finally won an All-Ireland. Having experienced it once, we want to get back there."
SO WHAT CAN WE EXPECT next?
O Se: "The big thing is that we know the players are still there (in Kerry). I don't believe in any of this nonsense that players are over the hill or too old.
"I know I'm pushing on; I'll be 33 the next time I play (championship) with Kerry, but I don't feel as if the body is waning. I feel fresh. It's not what age you are, it's how you feel and if you look after the body there'll be no problems."
Flynn: "We know we didn't play the way we can this year. It's frustrating for any group when they don't play to their full potential, but that's in the past now and there's nothing we can do about it. What we have to do next year is make sure we get our game back up to where it should be."
DONEGAL – CAN THE NEW POWER BE TOPPLED?
O Se: "Donegal are the team right now – no question about that. The challenge for everybody is to take their game to that level. It will take a ferocious effort.
"I always say that to win an All-Ireland you need a small rub of the green but obviously you need to have the talent too. Look, it didn't happen for Kerry this year. As a group, we need to up it big time."
Flynn: "I'd have been confident going in against Donegal (this year) if we got the chance. We had beaten them before.
"They were obviously a little bit more attacking than last year so there might have been more holes at the back, but in the overall scheme of things they were the best team in the championship. Fair play, they deserved their All-Ireland.
"Donegal are up on a pedestal now. It looks like they're going to be the team to beat again next year but it won't be easy for them. Defending an All-Ireland title never is."