"Is it curry or is it stew?" - Seamus Flanagan and a Limerick training session in November 1 month ago

"Is it curry or is it stew?" - Seamus Flanagan and a Limerick training session in November

"I was thinking to myself this lad must have the wrong number. It must be another Seamus, maybe it's Seamus Hickey he's looking for, because it's definitely not me..."

It's easy to forget just how much of a bolt from the blue Seamus Flanagan was to the 2018 championship. With two rather unremarkable seasons behind him for the Limerick under-21s, the last thing the Feoghanagh-Castlemahon club man expected in late 2017 was a call from John Kiely.

"You start to question things. Not getting a look-in for the under-21s, it was tough." One self-confessed stinker from wing back followed by a five minute cameo as a sub the next year hardly amounted to beating the door down from that 21s team, but Kiely had seen or maybe even heard something he admired. This was 2017, and wasn't the word good.

"When John gave me the call, I absolutely jumped at it. I was in college up in Dublin at the time and I discussed it with my parents. They were very much academic-focused, but I decided to give it a go," he said two weeks ago, in a GAA Hour interview with Colm Parkinson.

In the summer of 2018, the blonde bomber cut loose in Limerick's season of seasons. As well as flooring Galway's talismanic Gearoid McInerney eight minutes into the All-Ireland final, Flanagan made many more memorable contributions in a campaign that, all in all, saw him harshly overlooked for an All-Star.

From the wilderness to hurling's promised land, it was some year for the then 21-year-old. Kiely had been vindicated, Flanagan revolutionised.

Suddenly, expectations were higher. Suddenly, the 2019 season was upon him.

"I went through a tough 2019, with injuries and do you know, other guys were coming in there. Peter Casey, Aaron Gillane and Graham Mulcahy - they were probably the best full forward line that's there. It just never really happened for me that season.

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"We had the trips abroad (after 2018) and when we came back we were rolling straight into the League again. I struggled to find my form in the League, there was no pre-season as such. It was straight back into training and you needed to hit the ground running but that didn't really happen for me. I remember I rolled my ankle twice, I did the hamstring against Cork in the championship too, and had to stay on because we had used all our subs. That probably aggravated it a bit more."

Stop-start-stop.

Flanagan can look back on it all now with a sense of perspective, a second All-Ireland medal lining his mantlepiece, but take away the perspective for a second - if the 2019 season left him back at square one, to him, square one was only a year away from the top of the mountain. He never stopped believing.

"We got to a county semi-final and were only beaten a point by Na Piarsaigh and I carried the form through from the club. I think then that I went back to my old roots in 2018 - just a bit more carefree and not overthinking things."

That chance came later than he'd hoped, making his first start of the 2020 championship in the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway. But true to style, he grasped the chance with both hands. He takes us back to a training session in November.

"I was prepping myself for coming on in those last 15/20 minutes do you know, the boys had won the Munster final and it's very hard to change a winning team. I think it was on the Tuesday - we usually run through a 15 on 15. I remember John had called Darragh at midfield with Will, Cian had gone back to centre forward, so in my head, I began to zone out and thought to myself that's the change. The catering company had come in, and I remember looking up into the stands thinking what could we be having today, is it curry or is it stew? Then all I heard was Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan...

"I looked over and I was like, that's a mistake, surely that's a mistake."

"I went out in that session then and I popped 1-3 off Dan Morrissey, it went well for me. Then the Friday came and I was named at full forward, so I was absolutely over the moon. The nerves kicked in then and I was like, right I have to seal my position..."

That he did, hitting 0-2 off Daithí Burke in the semi and in the final, made it two from two. Seamus Flanagan, the man who climbed the mountain twice.

You can listen to the Seamus Flanagan interview here.