‘I was sitting beside Nickie Quaid and I was as white as a ghost. I thought I was going to get sick’

OVER THE FESTIVE period, Seamus Flanagan finally got around to sticking on the tape of last August’s All-Ireland hurling final.

Seamus Flanagan after the All-Ireland final.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Limerick full-forward admits he “moved on pretty quickly” after a glorious rookie campaign where he helped Limerick end a 45-year famine without the Liam MacCarthy.

By reminiscing on the 2018 season for one final time, the 22-year-old feels it drew a line on that glorious summer. Onto the next one. 

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“Christmas was where we sat back and watched back the games again,” he says.

“That was probably my first time watching the All Ireland final back in full. I’ve watched snippets here and there but I’ve put that to bed.

“That was then and I know it’s hard to say, you want to relive that moment again but I think I moved on pretty quickly after it and I’m just looking forward to getting back into it again.

“What’s one All Ireland when you’re 21? There’s a long career ahead and I’m looking to put back-to-back, if not more, together. You win one, you’re like that Clare team in 2013, you’re forgotten about again.

“It took them so long to get back there whereas we want to be back there next year, but again, one game at a time.”

Flanagan’s rise in the past 12 months has been nothing short of remarkable. He was an unused substitute in the 2017 All-Ireland U21 final as Limerick defeated Kilkenny for their second crown at the grade in three years.

While the likes of Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane and Kyle Hayes were expected to backbone the senior side for years to come, Flanagan wasn’t tipped for greatness.

Flanagan at the Electric Ireland HE GAA launch. Electric Ireland launched the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Championships today, announcing that Electric Ireland will live stream a selection of Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup games, bringing fans closer to the action than ever before.

Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

But John Kiely spotted a diamond in the rough and called him into the senior set-up that winter. Three months after warming the bench in that U21 final in the Gaelic Grounds, Flanagan was handed his first senior start in the Munster hurling league against Cork in Mallow.

“I remember I was more nervous for that game than I was for the All-Ireland final and that’s no joke,” he recalls.

“It was my first time getting a jersey off John Kiely. I was sitting beside Nickie Quaid and I was as white as a ghost. I thought I was going to get sick and he just said to relax and take it in my stride.”

Quaid’s words of advice worked a treat. Flanagan went out and bagged 1-2 on his debut. From that point he never looked back and became an ever-present in the Treaty side.

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“I got on well enough in that game and I think I started every game from then to the All-Ireland final.”

“It’s huge and it just shows how important these games are. There was 15 lads that started the All-Ireland final and there was four or five who came on but people don’t see there’s an extended panel there of 10 or 11 and we’re after getting four or five more in this year.

“Those guys are looking for game time if not starting positions.”

Flanagan scans the field during the All-Ireland semi-final defeat of Cork.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Flanagan’s place was by no means guaranteed after a strong pre-season with Limerick, but his form on the UCD team in their Fitzgibbon campaign helped his case even further.

“We weren’t expected to get out of our group and going down to the Mardyke there and beating UCC, that kickstarted it.

“It was massive for us and for me and I took that into the league then with me and that was where I sort of nailed my position down for the year and then kept it on for the championship.

“It was the Fitz that kicked that off and John Kiely always goes to those games you know?

“He was down at that game down in Cork and he came up to me congratulating me on the win. It was the Fitz that kicked if off and got it rolling for me then.”

An All-Star nomination and Celtic Cross were secured in 2018, but Flanagan is ready to scale new heights this year.

“Playing as All-Ireland champions, there’s always a target on your back but we’re going to take that in our stride, we’re a young team, we’ve had that in U21s, we’ve had that in minor, what’s it again in senior?

“We’ve all grown up together, we’ve all played on the same teams, everyone on that team bar the likes of Nickie Quaid and Graeme Mulcahy.

“So it’s huge but whatever, we’re going to take that on our backs and take it in our stride and bring on anyone who wants to take us on.”

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