| 18°C Dublin

JESUS - ARE WE EVER GOING TO WIN ONE?

BACK around September 2010, Paul Flynn and Michael Murphy sat in their shared digs in DCU and marveled at what it must be like for those Cork footballers who then, had just won the All-Ireland.

"Jesus, are we ever going to win one?" the Dublin player later recalled saying to his then almost famous housemate.

"I'd give anything. Just one All-Ireland. I'll give up playing then. You know that kind of a way? I'll pack it all in - I don't care - I'd be happy enough."

Four years later, he has two. Murphy, one.

Between them, they've won every Sam Maguire on offer since Graham Canty raised it in 2010 and regardless of who comes through between Dublin and Donegal this Sunday, there's a fair-to-strong chance that particular fact will hold for at least another year.

"We probably thought we were never going to reach the pinnacle, the Holy Grail or whatever," says Flynn now.

"It's funny. In the next two years, we did it. It's mad now looking back."

They've moved out and moved on.

Flynn is working with Aer Lingus. Murphy has just opened an eponymous sports shop in Letterkenny.

As it happens, Flynn texted his old comrade just last Wednesday night to congratulate him on the new venture.

"I haven't had an open conversation with him on how we're going to set up," he insists "and I don't think he's going to text me to tell me how they're going to set up.

"At the end of the day, life goes on too and no matter who wins the game, it doesn't mean we won't be friends.

"I don't let emotion get involved too much. I just go out and play the game and get on with it."

It's a whole new world, Flynn admits.

"I won't say I had it handy," he says, sounding a lot like he had it handy, "but I had it handier for four years there when I went back to college and had long summers off.

"In fairness, Air Lingus are very supportive of what I do in regards to football.

"We're all competitive on the field, but we also want to do well off the field.

"You don't want to go into a job and just float through it. We still have that competitive nature and want to do well off the field.

"The nap is gone, though," he says of the chief casualty of his admission to the big bad world.

"That was an integral part of my training programme. Now it's just gone.

"You can't be napping when you go home from work because then you won't get out of bed.

"The naps are gone but you get used to that!"

Not that he'd care to discuss it, but Flynn is currently favourite for Footballer of the Year and a fourth All Star in a row.

It's a long way from lining out for Fingal regional team in one of the blitzes in Inisfails organised by Pat Gilroy after his appointment in late 2008.

CLEAN SLATE

"It was a clean slate, really," Flynn recalls.

"Pat came in and wanted to identify talent, find new up-and-coming players.

"Age wasn't really a factor. It didn't matter. If you were good enough, you were old enough."

He recalls playing full-back at one stage, marking Bernard Brogan and keeping him scoreless.

Clearly, this mortally affected Brogan's confidence for years to come.

But previous to being the all-action, do-everything, non-stop wing-forward he is now, he was a try-hard wing-forward under 'Pillar' Caffrey, for whom shooting was the very last option after no receptive team mate presented themselves.

"There's no secret that I was horrendous at shooting a couple of years back and I didn't have any confidence whatsoever in it," he admits.

"So I said to myself that if I was going to be playing wing-forward for Dublin, that if I got opportunities to score - it might only be two a game - that I convert them.

"So I worked a lot on it. Going back to being in college, that helpedbecause I had more time to be able to spend on it and try and get my technique right.

"Pat and Mickey (Whelan), in fairness, were very good in that regard too. Me and Mick (Michael Murphy) used to go kicking when we were in college.

"I'd be looking back on tape and annoyed at seeing an opportunity that I clearly should have scored.

"It was more a self-reflection thing rather than hearing other people slating you."

This year, Dublin's entire pack of shooter have converted just over 50 per cent of their scoring chances in the Championship. Yet they have won by a collective 60 and an average of 15 points on account of the unprecedented volume of chances they have created.

Against Donegal, as their opportunities dip, so too - presumably - will their conversion rate need to rise.

"One out of two isn't good enough," Flynn insists.

"But You'd be surprised if you look through a season...if you look at the great Kerry team from a few years back, if they converted 60 per cent in a season, that would be very good."

"The last day against Monaghan, they only scored 11 points," he adds, highlighting the improvement in Dublin's defence this year as being a key development.

"In a quarter-final of the All-Ireland, to keep a team to that is brilliant. There's no doubt about it, there's space there as well so it's not easy for them.

"They're doing great collectively. Hopefully, we can keep that going."


Privacy