Wednesday 22 May 2019

Fingallians are the first priority as Paul Flynn calls time

Gaelic Games

Rory Kerr

When Pat Gilroy brought his Dublin team to Lawless Park for the annual Dubstars Challenge in 2010, Paul Flynn - who retired from inter-county football last week - was an unknown quantity.

Ciaran Whelan had just retired, leaving a big hole in the middle third, and with the exception of Bernard Brogan and his brother Alan, Dublin were crying out for quality forwards.

Their breakthrough win over Kerry in the 2011 All-Ireland win would change the mould and Flynn played a pivotal figure at half forward where he won the first of four All-Stars.

Flynn walks away as Dublin chase a historic five-in-a-row, but the newly appointed GPA chief executive stated he had given all he could give.

'Since my back surgery last year I've struggled to reach the fitness required for inter-county and to reach the standards that I set for myself. While my heart says play on, unfortunately my body says it's time to call it a day.

'I've loved every minute of my journey with Dublin football and to have played in front of its dedicated and passionate supporters has allowed me to make memories that I will cherish forever. I move on now with gratitude to the next chapter of my life.'

Roll back to 2008 when he made his championship debut against Westmeath. For the next two seasons he would struggle to break into the pack. But his time at DCU - where he roomed with former Player of the Year Micheal Murphy - would shape him as a footballer.

Under Niall Moyna he would would win two Sigerson Cup medals and under Jim Gavin he would flourish.

The half forward division had in the past been a problem area for Dublin. You had the likes of Senan Connell and Alan Brogan, who soldiered well under Paul Caffrey without ever getting the just rewards, but Flynn's arrival would make it a more formidable unit.

He would join forces with fellow Fingal man Bryan Cullen, who famously lifted the Sam Maguire in 2011. Whilst Cullen was your all-American line-breaker, Flynn's ability to pick out the pass - not to mention his uncanny knack for kicking from far out - would soon make him a favourite with Dublin fans.

Outside of Dublin and DCU, Flynn remained a dedicated clubman - and an obliging one at that.

In 2010 Mick Kennedy would pull off something of a coup when persuading Flynn to line out with the hurlers in their Junior A Championship Final against St Judes in Parnell Park. Flynn would duly score a point as the Swords outfit lifted the title.

But it was with the footballers that Flynn concentrated his efforts. He was the guiding force for Fingallians in their attempts to achieve Senior status. Three times in succession they lost out in Intermediate club finals before finally getting over the line against Ballymun Kickhams in 2016.

A versatile player who could deviate between midfield and full forward, Flynn had an immense presence on the field.

Dublin's loss after six All-Irelands, five National Football League titles and the four All-Stars, will be Fingallians' gain.

At 32, he has still plenty to offer. There was evidence of that in last month's championship clash with Round Towers Clondalkin where Flynn battled through the pain barrier to hit 1-3 while also linking up well with rising star Shane Howard.

With an important championship game to come against St Maur's in the autumn, Fingallians will undoubtedly want to have Flynn back to his fighting best for what could be their key game of the season.

For the man who seldom says no, rest is probably what Flynn needs in the coming months.

Fingal Independent