PAUL (31) is in his 14th season with the county. His favourite position is wing-forward, but he has played in most attacking positions for Waterford. He has won two Munster senior, two Munster U21 and one Munster minor medal. With Ballygunner, he has won seven county titles, a county minor and a Munster club. With Munster, he has won four Railway Cup medals. A shinty internati
PAUL (31) is in his 14th season with the county. His favourite position is wing-forward, but he has played in most attacking positions for Waterford. He has won two Munster senior, two Munster U21 and one Munster minor medal. With Ballygunner, he has won seven county titles, a county minor and a Munster club. With Munster, he has won four Railway Cup medals. A shinty international in 1994, he has one Vodafone All-Star award. He won schoolboy international caps as a soccer goalkeeper and also played a season with Waterford United in the League of Ireland. He plays golf off a handicap of two and runs Paul Flynn's bar in Waterford City.
What was your 'welcome to the inter-county scene' moment?
My first match was against Kilkenny in a challenge and I was marked by Eddie O'Connor. I had just gone 18 and very quickly the big difference in standards was apparent - the speed of the game and the physical side of it. It wasn't just Eddie, it was more the whole Kilkenny team, they were All-Ireland champions at the time.
Apart from your own, which team is currently playing the most attractive hurling?
I have always liked the Galway style, even though they didn't get the results this year.
What does hurling mean to you?
I take it very seriously and, not having had success for so long, I'm hungry for it. But most of all, it's an honour to be able to represent my county.
Did you ever have an idol, sporting or otherwise?
I always wanted to be the best hurler, so I looked up to those who were. When I was young that was John Fenton, and when I was older it was Joe Cooney.
Before a game, are you pumped-up or laidback?
Laidback. There's very little you can do until the ball is thrown in.
Least favourite venue - and why?
Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. It's never full and it's such a vast stadium that it's very seldom you get a good atmosphere in it.
Outside hurling, what is your proudest achievement?
Representing my country at soccer as a schoolboy.
Most memorable sporting moment?
The Munster final win in 2004 because it was such a good game.
Your worst or most embarrassing sporting moment?
Losing to Clare in the 2002 semi-final. We didn't do ourselves justice that day.
Moment in your life when sport was put into perspective?
The death of any close friend. Also I lost a cousin in a car crash nine years ago.
What most distinguishes a county player from a club player?
Ability and the willingness to make sacrifices to play for the county. It's more than just training.
Who is the best club player who hasn't made your county team?
Alan Kirwan (Ballygunner) is a 26-year-old corner-back, who has been on the panel and will play for the county at some stage.
Is it necessary to be ruthless to be successful at county level?
It is. You must take your chance when you have it; drive home your advantage when you can.
How many times have you been sent off in your career - and why?
What a question! About six times - four at county level and twice with the club. I put it down to bad refereeing, their misunderstanding of the rules.
What is the most annoying thing an opponent has done to you in the course of a game?
Feigning injury, which is becoming more widespread. It's basically over-reacting to small incidents, trying to get you booked.
If there was a transfer market who would be your target - and why?
Mark Foley (Limerick) and Ollie Canning (Galway) are two players I like who could make a difference.
Are there any perks involved in playing for the county?
Not really. We have use of a leisure centre, and have had the odd team holiday, but it's really about the buzz of playing for Waterford.
Has the backdoor system outlived its usefulness. If so, your alternative?
I think it has, but I don't know what to replace it with. That's a question that would need a week's reflection. The current system is lopsided and it's killing club hurling.
Which four sportspeople would you like to invite to dinner - and why?
Fred Couples, because of his laidback attitude; David Ginola, because I was a mad Spurs fan and to thank him for keeping Spurs up that season; John McEnroe because he was the best at what he did; and the late Philly Grimes because my father raved so much about him I'd love to have met him.
In an All-Ireland final, which referee would you prefer?
A fair one. Dessie O'Leary (Waterford).