Flynn: I had to get an anaesthetic just to get on the pitch
MOST likely, it will rank as the greatest day of the Dublin players’ lives but for Paul Flynn, it very nearly didn't happen.
Hamstrings are fickle and Flynn's right hammer came within an inch of ruining the day Dublin's Trojan wing-forward had dreamed of since he was a kid out in Swords.
The first moment of doubt for Flynn came in the dying throes of Dublin's victory over Donegal when the troublesome muscle in his left leg tore and he hobbled off the field, contemplating watching the first All-Ireland appearance for the boys in blue in 16 years from the sidelines.
Immediately though, Pat Gilroy set about killing any pre-final speculation by effectively declaring his Fingallians powerhouse fit and able to take a full part.
Gilroy's strategy was to downplay the extent of the injury, so much so that Flynn proclaimed himself at optimum fitness when the media assembled to extract the last available thoughts of the Dublin players a full two weeks before the final.
The truth was somewhat different.
“I'm not going to lie to you but my hammer is probably off the bone at the moment,” he admitted to the Herald.
“I had to get an anaesthetic just to get onto the pitch. I just went out and gave it everything I f***ing had. “It was a grade two tear,” he revealed, an injury which generally requires a recovery time far longer than Flynn engineered.
“The week before the game, I got back really well. Then when I tried to sprint it went again.
“It was one of the worst days of my life last Sunday when I thought I wasn't going to play in that game. It was a low point in my life and I was so down. Thanks be to the God the medical staff we have are incredible.
” As it happened, his participation in Sunday's incredible All-Ireland final was under serious threat until almost 24 hours before throw-in.
“On Saturday I did a fitness test. Even in the fitness test it was sore. I had decisions to make whether I should say it to management or not. Then I had to do a test when I had to chase Declan Lally – and I caught him. If you can catch him, you can catch anyone. Because he's the quickest man on the panel.
“I just have to thank James Allen (Dublin's physio) so much. Only for him, I wouldn't have been on the field.”
Once Flynn was deemed sufficiently healthy to partake, there was never any doubt that Gilroy would start him.
On Sunday, in Dublin's hour of greatest need, Flynn pitted himself manfully against Eoin Brosnan and as he has done all year, gave Dublin a dynamo of energy at wing-forward.
Given his lung-busting brief, it's not unusual for Flynn to be substituted and on Sunday, given that the hamstring was so brittle, his exit from the pitch was somewhat inevitable.
Flynn had done his job but watched the final seconds from the line and when Joe McQuillan blew his final whistle, the emotion took over.
“It was the most surreal feeling ever,” he explained. “I just ran. I was going to run to someone and then I just fell on the ground. I had to try and take it all in.
“It just takes you over. Your whole dream since you were a child. Since you were going asleep at night thinking ‘Oh My God, I'd love to win an All-Ireland.' And we've done it now. It's incredible.”
Typically, Flynn is generous with his praise for Sunday's victory. He is known to be a loyal to any manager but his belief in Pat Gilroy is palpable.
“They made us believe ourselves and our system of play,” he explained. “We said that no matter what happened in a match, we would stick to our system. We believed in our system. That's the main thing, belief. Belief in the management. They trusted us, we trusted them. “
That's two All-Irelands, beating Kerry,” he continued. “They're the best team around for the last decade and look at the players they had. “
You might think we're talking s****e when we say it, but we're such a close team. Right from one to 31, everybody is an important as each other.
“That's why it's so special. Every one of us made this happen.”
Flynn, more than most.