Flanagan determined to win back to back All-Irelands
By John Harrington
One All-Ireland title isn’t enough for rising Limerick hurling star, Seamus Flanagan.
The Feohanagh-Castlemahon club-man says everyone in their camp is determined to create history by becoming the first Limerick team to win back to back All-Irelands.
“You’re not looking to be put down as anyone, ‘you’re like this team’ or ‘you’re like that team’, we want to make our own history,” said Flanagan at the launch of Electric Ireland’s Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Championships.
“It was our first win in 45 years but that’s not going to be enough for us.
“When your average age of the team is 23, who wants to have won at 23 and then not win again for another 10 years? That’s nothing.
“You want to be putting back-to-back titles, if not more and we’re just going to focus on this year, get through that league, hopefully, get what we can out of the league, and that’s our priority at the moment.
“But when Championship comes around, it’s going to be all go again and hopefully, you’ll see us back in Croke Park on All Ireland final day.”
Retaining an All-Ireland hurling title is no easy task as teams like Galway and Tipperary have discovered in recent years.
When you’re the defending champion there’s a target on your back, but Flanagan isn’t worried about that prospect in the slightest.
“Sure look, there is,” he said. “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.”
Flanagan has revealed that the week before the All-Ireland Final last year Limerick’s ‘B’ team defeated their ‘A’ team in an in-house challenge match.
It’s not just that strength in depth that makes him very confident about the year ahead, but also the cast-iron belief that there’s no team out there capable of outworking this group of Limerick hurlers.
“You saw, for most of the All Ireland final, I was out in the half-forward line and in between that half-forward and full-forward line.
“It’s very hard for a full-back to mark you when you’re in between those two lines because he doesn’t know whether to follow or whether to stay back. Again, it’s just sole work rate.
“Our game plan, people say our game plan is easy to read, how do you read work rate? You can’t plan for work rate and the only thing that a team can do is out-work us and no one is going to out-work us because, as much as someone else works, we’re going to work 10 times harder, off the ball, on the ball, hooking, blocking, chasing down that ball, it’s just going to be massive work rate.
“You can’t out-work us because we’re going to out-work anyone that we play. You can plan all you want for us, mark us, drop a sweeper, drop two sweepers, but once we work harder than you, we’re going to beat you, we’re going to get those hooks, get those blocks, get those scores and I don’t know how you can plan against that.”