There’s a 2012 “what if” nagging Paul Flynn. Personally, it couldn’t have gone much better, winning a second successive All Star but being denied an All-Ireland final against Donegal spoilt the season.
He’d have fancied Dublin’s chances had they beaten Mayo in the semi-final. Donegal, he says, held no fear for him and he was put out by how much attention they garnered when Dublin were the champions.
“How would we have coped against Donegal? I think when you get to an All-Ireland final, things change, your form can go out the window, it’s all about on the day.
“We really wanted that game against Donegal, there’s no doubt about it. Maybe that’s one of the issues that caused us not to perform in the semi-final. I know myself personally, I really wanted it.
“We were the All-Ireland champions at the time but all the talk was about Donegal. We were kind of feeling like ‘hold on a minute, don’t forget about us here’. I would have been confident going in against Donegal, we knew we had beaten them before.
“They were obviously being a little bit more attacking last year so there might have been more holes opening up at the back. But in fairness to them in the overall scheme of things, they were by far the best team last year. The teams they beat along the way, they didn’t do it the easy way.”
Speaking from experience, Flynn says Donegal won’t have it easy next year either. Injuries and weary legs catch up with teams. Dublin left it too late to stage a comeback from 12 points down against Mayo and Flynn doesn’t spare criticism of his team’s performance prior to their fourth-quarter rally.
“Diabolical. That’s what frustrates us because we know we have that last 15 minutes in us but then we go and perform like we did for the rest of the game.
“It wasn’t just the Mayo game, we crept over the line in other games; we weren’t performing to our high standards we set for ourselves.
“There was a low point there when you go 12 points down in a game and you think ‘this wasn’t the way you thought it was going to go’.
“I think you have to take that hurt and use it to your advantage. You remember how bad it felt to lose a game like that and try use it for next year.”
Flynn doesn’t buy into the idea that Dublin’s appetite for more success had been satiated by their 2011 triumph.
“Some people say it was a lack of hunger. But what does that mean? You can’t just say that and think that answers all the problems.
“Why was there a lack of hunger, what else was there? There were obviously other issues. I’m sure the new management team are going to sit down and think about what it was and ask us. What frustrates me the most is that 15-minute period at the end of the Mayo game was exactly what we were looking for but it came too late.”
Flynn was part of the group that recently met with new manager Jim Gavin but he’ll certainly miss Pat Gilroy’s influence.
“He believed in me, he instilled belief in me and my game and he worked on different areas of my game that he felt I needed to work on. He was honest with me and there was no hassle there — I needed that kick up the arse and he gave it to me.”
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