Wednesday 26 June 2019

Flanagan: This is just the start

Treaty star lays down the gauntlet to chasing pack and insists no-one can match ravenous work-rate

Seamus Flanagan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Seamus Flanagan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

When Limerick boss John Kiely stated that January 1 would be a recalibration date after their historic All-Ireland success, he wasn't saying it for the sake of it, and their team holiday in Mexico didn't interfere with training preparations over the New Year.

Seamus Flanagan describes it as "putting some hay in the barn" and it's clear the Treaty have no intentions of being one-hit wonders, with the star forward insisting that "this is not the end of us, this is only the beginning".

An extraordinary work-rate was one of the hallmarks of their triumph and Flanagan has laid down the gauntlet to the chasing pack, claiming "no-one can match" them in this crucial department.

"People are saying that people can suss out our game-plan - our game-plan is very hard to work out, because it's just work-rate, that's all it is. It's straight up work-rate," Flanagan said at Electric Ireland's launch of the Higher Education Championships.

"Hooking, blocking, tackling. How do you create a game-plan that can work against that? You can't. All you can do is try to match our work-rate. We feel ourselves that no-one can match our work rate.

"If someone gives 100pc, we give 110. Once you always have more work-rate, more hooks, more blocks, more possessions, then it's hard to beat you. That's something that we always strive towards."

The Feohanagh/Castlemahon forward - who personally aims to add more on the scoreboard this season - acknowledges that they are the focus of everyone's attention, but he is relishing the challenge.

"I can't wait to be honest, going out there and every day you're the team to beat, just having that target on your head. It's going to give us massive motivation," he said.

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"To have that extra weight on your shoulders, for us we've had that at U-21 level, we've had that at minor level, what's it at senior level? There's a great team there and I'm just looking forward to it."

It's crazy to think that given his impact last season Flanagan was unknown this time 12 months ago and was an unused substitute in their All-Ireland U-21 final triumph two years ago under Kiely.

When the call-up came in October 2017, he even thought it was a case of mistaken identity.

"I actually asked John, I said: 'Do you have the right number? This is Seamus.' I was just like, 'no way can he be asking me to come into this team'," he remembered with a smile.

Radiography

The 20-year-old, a third-year radiography student in UCD, admits to being more nervous on his Munster SHL debut in Mallow against Cork than for the All-Ireland final in Croke Park given the importance of donning a Limerick senior shirt for the first time.

"I remember being in the dressing-room, Nickie Quaid beside me, and I'd say I was as white as a ghost. I remember the first ball that came in and I missed it. I was like, 'I'm going to get whipped off here! This is going downhill fast," he said.

"It picked up after that. I think I got a couple of scores, got a goal at the end as well.

"Coming off, while it was my first game, I felt like I was after winning the All-Ireland."

Little did he know he would play a huge role last season, and in their All-Ireland final triumph last August with his thundering hit on Galway linchpin Gearóid McInerney - "I remember thinking 'this is an opportunity here now, he's coming out, put a halt to him' - is well remembered but Flanagan believes they got one-up before the teams even hit the pitch.

"Galway were supposed to come out before us. But they were held back. Their manager Micheál Donoghue wouldn't let them out before us. We felt ourselves that was the first nail in their coffin because mental warfare - they wouldn't come out first and be on the pitch to hear our roar," he said.

Flanagan would "love to relive that feeling" of running out on final day amid a cacophony of noise but knows such occasions are a long way off and that it will be "cut-throat for places" as they make inroads on securing secure back-to-back titles.

Irish Independent

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