Flynn has hurled this final many times before

One more step to go: Jason Flynn and Eugene Cloonan celebrate after the final whistle against Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile

One more step to go: Jason Flynn and Eugene Cloonan celebrate after the final whistle against Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile

"When you're younger, you play enough All Irelands up against the gable end of the house. I must have played in 50 All Irelands around the side of the house already, and  I won them all. "

Galway hurler Jason Flynn must do it for real when he takes on Kilkenny in his first All Ireland final.

In Galway's epic win over Tipperary, the 20-years-old finished the day with five points to his name, none of them more important than the audacious effort he sent over the bar to put Galway level with time ticking down.

"I might have hit one or two all right for the club [like that]. It was a great feeling. When you're younger, you dream of hitting points like that and important scores. It was great  when it came off. I think I missed one or two before that," he says.

As for feeling any pressure taking that shot, he was just glad to be there to have the chance to do it he says.

"It was a bad clearance I think and I just said,  'look it's a great chance to get a good score'. You dream of getting scores like that in Croke Park and it's great to get a chance to do that."

Three years ago when the sides last met in the final, Flynn was a minor and watching the game from the stands. Thirty-six months later, he is one of Galway's key men in attack, but he remembers well both the final and the replay from 2012.

"I was a minor in 2012. We lost the semi-final against Tipp that year. I was up watching the game as a supporter in the Hogan Stand both days. I was a bag of nerves now the first day, more nervous than the players. When you're younger and you're looking out on it, you say to yourself that you'd love to be out there with them in the next few years, and luckily I've got the chance.  Even watching the game in 2012, you learn a lot."

Lighting the touch paper for the season

Flynn believes the replay with Dublin was a key moment in Galway's season.

"It really set us off and we haven't looked back since. We took an awful lot from the drawn game. We've improved every day since that game and that's the main thing, and we will have to improve again.

" There's no point saying we can go out and do the same thing again, you have to improve every day you go out and there are lots of things you can improve on."

In the Dublin replay Galway set out their stall for the rest of the year, he believes.

"We wanted to work hard and lay down a marker from the start -  that we want to be here for the long summer and we want to be here. We hadn't won a game in Leinister in Tullamore either, so we really wanted to put that to bed. Luckily we did and we haven't looked back since." 

Having taken the longer route to the All Ireland decider, having lost to Kilkenny in the Leinister final, has been useful to Galway in its preparations, he says.

"The extra game against Dublin helped us, you want to win the Lenister final to get the shortest route, but that extra game against Cork really stood to us,I think."

Forward factor

Former Galway star forward Eugene Cloonan has come on board Anthony Cunningham's management team in the past two years and Flynn says the Athenry man's influence has been helpful.

"A big one as a forward, he brings great confidence to the forwards, even shooting I suppose, he always tells us to trust our game and if you miss nine shots, the 10th one is the most important to score. It's great to have the backing like that and that they have great confidence in us."

As a younger man Flynn remembers well the skill and verve Cloonan brought to the Galway attack in his own playing days.

"I remember watching him in Croke Park and below in Thurles against the likes of Kilkenny and teams like that before Joe [Canning]. Eugene was the main man in Galway, it's great to have him alongside us now. He never loses the head, he's very calm, because if someone loses the head, it can follow through to the pitch. He's calm when he's giving us messages."

The way Galway held their nerve in the semi-final against Tipperary when it could have easily fallen apart is something of which Flynn is proud. He believes it will serve them well going into Sunday's game.

"We could have easily lost that game too, it's fine margins. Every team gets a purple patch and it's how you react to that.  You can see Tipperary got a great start, every team wants to get a great start, be it u-14 or senior, because it builds confidence.

"I suppose we showed great character in the way we were able to knock out scores straight after the goals they got.  It was awful intense and hardly a second to do what you want, always someone on your case, but it was great experience."

Beating the best

As for facing the unstoppable machine that Kilkenny have become in the final on Sunday, Flynn is licking his lips at taking on the Cats.

"Any day you get to play against the best, you look forward to it. They really set the bench mark the last few years. It's a new challenge, it's my fourth time playing against them now in the championship.  I've a good feel about what it's like playing against them. When you go out and get to mark the likes of Paul Murphy or a Jackie Tyrrell, it's a great challenge, you look forward to it."

To get away from all the madness that comes with big games, Flynn has a  simple escape which he uses to clear his mind.

"I love to walk my dogs the night before the game. It might sound like a small thing.  I've three dogs at home, we've a bit of a mountain out the back, and I bring them out there and they head off into the river. It just clears the head. It's good to get away, out into the open. I will be at home most of the day before, relaxing. You'd not want to get too overwhelmed either."

"You just have to want it more. You have to go out like it's a new day, and even at half time, you have to think about it being a new game, even if you're a point up or a point down. You have to work the same as you did in the first five minutes."



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