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'How do you walk into a country house and say you're sorry? There are no words'

Galway star Jason Flynn is hoping to honour the memory of his late brother by claiming an All-Ireland senior hurling medal.

Galway star Jason Flynn.
Galway star Jason Flynn.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IT WAS A black week for Galway hurling.

In October 2008, Paul Flynn and Shane Smyth were killed in separate road accidents and the county had lost two of its brightest young stars.

Smyth was a highly-rated 19-year-old hurler from Killimor who had represented the Tribesmen at U16 level.

And Flynn had broken onto the Galway senior panel in 2008, when Ger Loughnane was manager.

Flynn, a 24-year-old student Garda at the time of his death, had been busy making waves in the maroon jersey in previous years.

The highlight of his career was a starring at corner back in the 2005 All-Ireland U21 final, on a Galway team featuring current seniors Niall Healy and David Collins.

At the Gaelic Grounds, the Westerners defeated a Kilkenny outfit containing the likes of Richie Power and Eoin Larkin, to land a first U21 crown since 1996.

David McCormack with Paul Flynn Paul Flynn tackles Kilkenny's David McCormack in the 2005 All-Ireland U21 hurling final. Source: INPHO

Former Galway senior boss Cyril Farrell, a Tommy Larkins clubmate of Flynn’s, remembers the sheer devastation that followed his untimely passing.

“It rocked the whole place. James McGarry and Martin Comerford came down from Kilkenny for the funeral, they would have met Jason as a young hurler coming through,” Farrell recalls.

“His parents are great GAA people, the memories will always be there but they’re starting to live again.

“I’d have known him very well and I was talking to him a week or two before he passed away.

“I felt so sorry for the family. How do you walk into a country house and say you’re sorry?

“There are no words. But now, with the help of God, they’re living again.”

“He was a right good player, wing-back, centre back, corner back.

“He had great skill and pace as well.

“Jayo was the younger brother and coming through. His dream was to play for Galway ever since.”

Cyril Farrell Former Galway boss and current TV pundit Cyril Farrell. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Paul’s brother, Jason, was just 13 at the time.

Ever since, honouring the memory of his late brother has been Jason’s raison d’être.

The night before the All-Ireland semi-final victory over Tipperary, Flynn posted this picture on his Instagram account, and scored five points against the Premier County the next day.

Flynn

Victory over Kilkenny at Croke Park next Sunday, if they could achieve it, would mean so much to Flynn and Galway, who also lost Niall Donoghue in tragic circumstances in 2013.

The Tribesmen won’t lack for any motivation and Farrell, the last man to preside over a Galway team that lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1988, has urged the present crop to “throw off the shackles” in pursuit of glory.

“I was saying the other night, I know you have to have your gameplan but you have to go out and hurl,” he said.

“Thinking too much about the opposition and showing them too much respect won’t work at all. It’s time to throw off the shackles.”

And Farrell believes that Flynn, still only 20, can have a big say.

“Jason, from an early age, had exceptional skill and talent as good as any player in the country. It was just a matter of getting it out of him,” Farrell reflects.

“He’s still very young, 6ft 3 or 4, and even for the club he could get 1-10 and you’d say that he wasn’t that good.

“He’s become the leader for the club now and I’d often be saying to do the ordinary things more, he’s improved beyond all recognition.

“Jason was always different. At underage coming through, he was the driving force behind it. He could turn a game in a minute, he had the ability to do it.

“We would have had a lot of underage players for Galway all the way up along but Jason was the first Tommy Larkins man that made a senior (county) team.”

Jason Flynn celebrates a score Jason Flynn is a man on a mission. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“This lad (Jason) is different,” Farrell adds.

“He might have a ferocious bad game and miss some frees but it doesn’t affect him.

“He can just hurl, that’s his whole world but he’s not big-headed or smart. 

“It hasn’t affected him yet and I don’t think it will, coming from that background as well.”

Jason’s cousin Colm is also a member of the senior squad and lined out at corner back in last month’s historic All-Ireland intermediate final victory over Cork.

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