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Saturday 21 October 2017

'It gives you hope - the Dubs are just human'

Belief is key to Kildare's Sky Blue quest says Flynn

Kildare’s Daniel Flynn was in Croke Park for the draw and launch of the Top Oil Leinster Schools Senior Football ‘A’ Championship. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare’s Daniel Flynn was in Croke Park for the draw and launch of the Top Oil Leinster Schools Senior Football ‘A’ Championship. Photo: Sportsfile

Kildare had "huge belief" that they would beat Dublin last July. They ended up losing by nine. But Daniel Flynn still firmly believes that they can topple them next summer.

And therein lies the key for anyone hoping to end the Dubs' record seven-year reign as Leinster kingpins, let alone terminate their quest for a Sam Maguire four-in-a-row.

If you don't believe, what hope have you?

"We had huge belief going into that game that we were going to beat Dublin," said Flynn, harking back to this year's Leinster SFC final. "I think that's the right way to go at them: to go and play football.

"Mayo had it, we had it. Those two games were similar ... well, they obviously pushed them a lot closer than we did, but the styles of the games were similar. We went out and played football, rather than trying not to lose. Some teams are nearly beat before they go out."

That was his county's first Leinster final appearance in eight years. It contained some memorable Kildare cameos - specifically a battling second-quarter fightback that cut Dublin's lead from nine points to four, crowned by an outrageous Flynn score that arguably ranked as point of the year.

But Flynn is more likely to recall Stephen Cluxton's third-quarter save when he was clean through. Ultimately, even though it ended Dublin's long sequence of double-digit wins in Leinster, that game underlined the journey that Kildare still must travel under Cian O'Neill.

"People have said it's a moral victory, to get within nine points of them," Flynn reflected.

"You take whatever positives you can. We were nine points down after 20 minutes, and we were beaten by nine points; we let in the two early goals, and I missed a sitter to bring it back to three points. All these little things - but there was nine points in it at the end.

"We're getting there. We pushed them hard, and if these things went our way ... I don't think there is that much in it, I think the gap is closing between the rest of the counties and Dublin."

Mayo's agonising All-Ireland heartbreak offered further encouragement. "It does give you hope," said Flynn. "It shows that Dublin are just human; it's 15 v 15, white ball, grass is green, everything is the same. It's how you perceive that, and go at them, is the biggest obstacle.

"There's a bubble in the media that surrounds Dublin, that they're unbeatable. They have backed that up, but … "

Next question: are the Dubs catchable next year?

"I can't see a reason why anyone can't beat them," said the Johnstownbridge clubman. "There no obstacle to us beating them, other than the fact that they are very good. It goes a long way if you believe you can do something.

"There's a mental side there. And if you can overcome that, it goes a long way towards beating Dublin."

As to whether Kildare are now physically equipped to tackle Jim Gavin's men, he ventured: "I would be confident, but I think everyone else is too.

"It comes down to attitude more than ability. One man against the other man. It's about that belief - they've been there, they've done it before, they know what they are capable of doing.

"It's a bit like the four-minute mile: no-one could beat the four-minute mile, then Roger Bannister beat it, and soon everyone started beating it. That's a good way of looking at it," he concluded.

*Flynn was speaking at yesterday's Croke Park draw for the Top Oil Br Bosco Cup - the new name for the Leinster GAA Schools' SF 'A' championship.

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