Flynn in flying form
Senior medal would be crowning glory
At 32, Adrian Flynn has seen it all as a Gusserane O'Rahilly's stalwart. Well, pretty much it all.
Because like the generation before him, and much of the generation before that, the county Senior medal has eluded another bunch of talented players at one of Wexford's most storied clubs.
Indeed, it has now been 41 years since Gusserane last took their seat at the top of the table. Six painful final losses, multiple close calls and so many top drawer players. They have always found one side a little bit better come finals day.
Almost this whole side has experienced what it's like. Two years ago St. Anne's did just about enough to break every Gusserane heart. A year that flowed from April to autumn with so much promise, abruptly ended by the narrowest of defeats in the county final.
But painful losses can turn into learning experiences, they can stand to the team and the players within. When the chips are down they have been there, know what went wrong and are even more determined not to let it happen again.
'They say you have to lose one to win one,' Flynn philosophically mused. 'I suppose that one two years ago will be fresh in everyone's memories. We kind of know now, we have the experience of playing on a big day in a tight match, which is what this one will be as well. We are hoping we will have that little bit of experience that should aid us.'
Maybe this scenario didn't seem likely when St. Martin's gave the New Ross District club the run-around in Wexford Park in early August. It was a seminal moment for Flynn and his team-mates, an afternoon they needed to refocus their attentions and make some necessary changes.
'We didn't leave Wexford Park for an hour or so,' Flynn revealed. 'We just sat in the dressing-room and kind of talked about where we were at and where we were going. Some of the lads had a few things they needed to air, to get out in the open, that they thought that we had to change or what not.
'We sat there for an hour and we got through what we needed to say and everyone said their part and we moved on from there. In fairness, since then everyone has picked up, ourselves and even the management have tweaked a few things that have aided us.'
Part of that revival was getting 'four or five really hard weeks of training' after the county team exited the championship. It's a formula that Flynn said has his side 'fresh enough' heading into the biggest game of the season. That was certainly evident in their semi-final win over Castletown.
'The way the game goes in Wexford Park nowadays, it's a game of two halves every time,' explained Flynn. 'You have the advantage of the wind in one half, against it in the other, and we were lucky to have the breeze in the first-half, the same in the quarter-final against the Anne's.
'We built up a bit of a lead in both games and then the lads just worked tirelessly. It's great to have something to hang on to, it gives you a little bit of belief. We got a few bodies back, and luckily enough we put Castletown under pressure, they couldn't get the ball over and we held on for the win.'
Flynn doesn't believe sitting back as county finalists and getting to see how well Glynn-Barntown performed against St. Martin's was an advantage. To the contrary, it made the county man sit back and think 'ah Jesus, they are good'. He saw enough in the semi-final to know what to expect from the Killurin-based side, and what they will need to do to become champions.
'They are physical in the middle so we have to at least break even in the middle. A lot of it is going to go on breaking ball, how we get on around the middle, it's who wants that dirty ball a little bit more,' said Flynn, before continuing:
'We definitely have to stop Michael O'Regan doing damage. If you give him space, if he hits form on the day, he could easily score eight, nine, ten points. He was a different gravy on the field against the Martin's, they couldn't contain him which is a large reason why they won the game.'
For Flynn and his team-mates, to get over the line and win that elusive county title would be huge. He said: 'Sure look, I haven't stopped thinking about it in the last couple of weeks. To get through here would mean the world to every one of us.
'I'm playing, the same as a lot of lads are playing, with friends that I've grown up with, have been playing Senior for the last 14 years and maybe picked up a few small medals, Tommy Murphy Cup and stuff like that, but we've never actually won anything together.'
For everyone in the Gusserane community, to win their first county title since 1975 would be massive. None more so, said Flynn, than their local mentors, Kevin Kehoe and Mick Caulfield, who along with Maurice Browne have helped guide the Gusserane juggernaut to this point.
'At the end of the da they players want to win but for us to win for Kevin and Mick, it would mean more than anything in the world to them. It's just great to have that enthusiasm there and that love of the parish.'