FINGALLIANS man Paul Flynn described last Sunday’s All-Ireland win over Mayo as “the hardest game I have played in my whole life” following a bruising battle that saw him help land a second title in two years for the Dubs.
He played a key role in their 2-12 to 1-14 win in Croke Park last Sunday, lining out initially in the half-forward line before being used as a utility man during the latter phases.
Flynn was joined in the side by Fingal Ravens’ man Darren Daly who emerged from the bench to replace Jack McCaffrey at half-time. His former club manager Mick Deegan, meanwhile, was the first man on the scene to celebrate with Jim Gavin having taken on a selectors’ role at the start of the year.
Dublin did not find the fluidity that had been a feature of a stunning 2013 but they did have the appetite for the battle to grind out victory in rugged fashion.
Indeed, the Sky Blues were awash with walking wounded long before the final whistle with all five substitutes used with a quarter of the tie remaining. It meant Rory O’Carroll and Eoghan O’Gara were forced to plough on despite injuries, showing the strength of character required to get over the line and land Sam Maguire.
“There’s not enough crutches in here for some of the lads – head injuries, stitches, I have never seen anything like it,” Flynn said of the physical demands that the final illicited.
“Mayo just didn’t stop, they just keep going. Their half-back line keep trying to go forward and you have to keep tracking them and as you can see I’m a bit tired. But I’m over the moon, I’m just so happy.
“They wouldn’t leave us alone but I’d enough belief in my own fitness that if you kept going and kept going they would tire a bit more and indeed they did. We were just that little bit sharper and a bit more clinical.”
With O’Carroll slightly concussed from a fierce collision with Enda Varley, Flynn was forced to step into the sweeper role late on which led to some scrambling late on.
“[Eoghan] O’Gara pulled his hamstring too, so he was kinda gone and I knew we were going to be against it then. By playing sweeper, we invited them on. You need to go man to man with them and try and stop them at source.”
“It’s hard to put words on it because when you get one All-Ireland, you’re saying this is all you ever want in your whole life,” Flynn continued.
“But I’ll be honest, and there’s no harm in saying it now, it would have been unjust if we only got one All-Ireland with this group of lads because the team we have here is just phenomenal.”