Dublin's Paul Flynn opens up on how he feared axe after All Ireland final draw with Mayo
Between last year's drawn All-Ireland final and replay, Paul Flynn found himself in an unfamiliar position.
The Fingallians man went into the season as one of the game's most respected players, having won four consecutive All-Stars from 2011-14, a feat bettered only by Kerry greats Pat Spillane, Jack O'Shea and Páidí Ó Sé.
An ever-present when fit for years, Flynn found himself fretting over his previously guaranteed starting spot between the two All-Ireland finals with Mayo last year.
"I didn't feel it in the media, but I felt it myself anyway because I knew I wasn't playing to my own standards," Flynn recalled at the announcement of the extension of the GAA/GPA's agreement with Avonmore protein milk.
"Anyone who isn't playing to their own standards or not playing well is going to feel that."
Flynn is in his 11th season with the Dublin seniors now and he's not hiding from the fact that there's more football behind him than ahead of him.
But the end, he says, will come soon enough without going looking for it.
"You talk to lads like Barry (Cahill), Alan (Brogan) and Mossy (Quinn), lads who you would still be close to," he says.
"Other things fill your life: Barry has two kids now, Alan has got kids, life goes on.
"When you're younger you think there is nothing in life other than football, but as you grow older you realise there is.
"My career is very important to me off the field. I have to leave work maybe to go training at 5.30 or even 5.0 some evenings, whereas if I didn't I'd have another couple of hours in work (for Lincoln Recruitment), and most days you need that.
"So I could easily fill the time but you wouldn't get the feeling you get when you are on that field very easily. That's the biggest challenge."
Talk of that is for another day. The next few months have all his attention now.
Like a number of Dublin stars, his reintroduction to the team was staggered.
It looks like time well spent. Against Roscommon in the League he hit 1-6, his highest total in a Dublin jersey, a sign that Flynn is as determined as ever to be in Jim Gavin's plans.
"Whoever performs will get the jersey.
"That's the way it has to be."