THERE’S no other Cork player who has stood up and been counted as often as Geraldine O’Flynn.
When the sky blue ribbons were wrapping themselves around the Brendan Martin Cup with 15 minutes to go in last year’s All-Ireland final, O’Flynn helped lead Cork’s 10-point comeback. She missed a few points you’d bet your house on she’d fire over, but not once did the head drop.
With minutes remaining and the comeback well underway, the St Mary’s star slung over the winning point (2-13 to 2-12). The ones she missed prior to that simply melted away.
It’s just in her nature to deliver.
Cork’s Geraldine O’Flynn.
This year’s National League final replay was the same. Although it was Rena Buckley who nailed the winning point in O’Moore Park against Galway, it was O’Flynn’s performance on Tracey Leonard that proved the ultimate tactical move. Eamonn Ryan had asked O’Flynn to do a job in marking the maroon target woman. It had been the first time in O’Flynn’s 11-year senior intercounty career that she was tasked with playing full-back, and again she delivered.
In the aftermath of that win – which saw Cork win their ninth Division One National League title since 2005 – O’Flynn’s modesty came to the fore once again.
SACRIFICING YOUR OWN GAME
“Sometimes you have to sacrifice your own game for the sake of the team. I did it today, someone else will do it tomorrow,” she said.
It’s not yet known if she’ll be sacrificing her own game at wing-back again or not, but one thing is clear, Cork will have to deliver. Against Kerry in the Munster final, Eamonn Ryan’s charges lost their title and suffered their biggest defeat (nine points) under his reign, before overcoming Meath by 40 points in the qualifiers last week. What happened against the Kingdom however is hard to pinpoint, but now is the time to step up to the mark again.
“Things were going great in training up to the game and we just didn’t perform,” says O’Flynn.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it. It was a serious lesson for everyone and maybe we weren’t up for it as much as we were other years, but it’s hard to know where it went wrong really.
“I don’t think that’ll happen us against Galway. There’s a bit of fear there now but I think that’s a good thing. If it happens us again, it’s no one’s fault but our own, and then we’ll just have to hold our hands up.”
A training weekend at the University of Limerick the following week served to banish what happened in Mallow. It was a chance to resurrect; to turn over a new leaf.
To get the win over a weak Meath side in Semple Stadium last week in the qualifiers also helped, but for O’Flynn – a PE teacher in Youghal – there’s no point in siphoning off too many positives.
“To be honest, we were only worried about our own performance – getting our heads right for the day. It was more the team performance and the team effort against Meath that we were concerned with. It was really a case of looking at the positives and moving on.”
A STAR IS BORN
Against Meath, Beara’s Aine T O’Sullivan – a final year student in UCC – was one of the chosen ones to start. She was exceptional, scoring 3-5 in her first senior championship debut, and multi-winning All-Star defender O’Flynn was full of praise for her contribution.
“Aine was doing very well in the A v B games and she did excellent. She put her hand up and stepped up to the mark, and was played on merit. She’ll be important again for us on Saturday. There’s a different pressure now against Galway because people know who she is, and she’ll have to be ready for that, but that’s a good thing.”
Aine T O’Sullivan who scored 3-5 in her senior championship debut for Cork.
Many are tipping this showdown to be the real All-Ireland final, with both sides the top two teams in the country at present, with just a point separating them in the league after 120 minutes of football.
“The league final and the replay spoke for themselves. It could have gone either way. Galway are very hungry and I’m sure they’ll be eager to get a victory over us. We know we’ve a big test ahead of us and the question is are we good enough to pull off the performance? But, if we set ourselves up for it then we’ll be there or there abouts.”