O'Flynn: Past glories spur on Cork's new breed
JOHN O'Flynn's first game of 2014 was not an occasion to set the pulses racing - a League Two battle between his Exeter United side and Mansfield Town on a cold January day, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
But the striker is around long enough to know that the heat will be on when he plays his final game of the calendar year tonight, the 'house full' signs up in place at Oriel Park as Cork City and Dundalk go head to head for the Premier Division title.
Now in his 33rd year, O'Flynn's career is in its latter stages but the former Ireland U21 cap, who rejoined Cork in the summer from Exeter, still has big dreams and big ambitions. So it's no wonder that the 2005 league title success with Cork was on the striker's mind this week, O'Flynn trying to balance good memories of that win in that very talented Cork squad with the demands of tonight, Cork needing just a point to win their first league title since that 2005 win.
"We did it in 2005 and we have more league medals in our changing room than they do, so there is that bit of positivity that we can take into tonight," says O'Flynn, who has scored just once in his 12 appearances since the move back to Cork.
There are of course some league winners in the Dundalk camp. Stephen Kenny won a title with Bohemians and Dundalk players Mark Rossiter, Stephen O'Donnell and Sean Gannon have medals at home from spells with other clubs.
But as the Cork squad spent time together this week - the panel spent last night in Dublin to have the best-possible preparation for the game, away from the goldfish bowl that is Cork - thoughts did turn back to the last league win, a team which would supply four players to the senior Ireland team.
And their track record, added to the experience of Colin Healy and the youthful promise of lads like Gearoid Morrissey, Josh O'Shea and Rob Lehane, breeds huge confidence.
"We have players in our squad who have been there and done it all," says John Dunleavy, the Donegal-born captain of Cork.
"Healers (Healy) playing for Ireland and in England, Dan Murray winning many a league title, John O'Flynn and Liam Kearney have won league titles so they know what it's all about, it's brilliant to have them for the rest of us to feed off and learn from," added Dunleavy.