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Changing course

ALL STAR Flynn launches strong defence of DCU as he prepares for Dubs.

Paul Flynn has established himself as Dublin's Mister Consistent in recent years but his next mission will be plotting their downfall. "A weird one," admits the two-time All Star, who will be wearing the DCU colours tonight when tackling his beloved Dubs in the O'Byrne Cup at Parnell Park (throw-in 7.30).

This being January, though, Flynn's current footballing focus is geared towards his college and the fast-approaching defence of their Sigerson Cup title.


He is proud to profess his indebtedness to DCU; how he wouldn't be the footballer he is today but for their expert guidance and facilities. And he's also in the mood to defend the Glasnevin seat of learning from any accusation that they have bankrolled their rise to the Sigerson summit.

As Flynn sees it, some other colleges may have enticed elite players through their doors through cash scholarships but this is not the DCU way.

"You don't get anything like that in DCU. You get your gym membership and they might help you with your accommodation, but that's about it," the Fingallians clubman maintains.

"People seem to think that you come to DCU and you get a wedge of cash, a new car and the whole lot when you come in the door, and it's not like that one bit.

"That's what kind of annoys me about the stigma that's out there about DCU. The first thing that I was told by Niall Moyna was that - and you can quote me on this one - your education comes first and everything else comes second.

"And that's the way it has been. Niall is such an academic and he'll help us in any way we need it with our college work, he'll give us grinds and stuff like that, but there's never been any situation like what people seem to think.

"It's gas. There have been people who have tried to get into DCU and Niall had to tell them, 'Look, do your Leaving Cert again or do another course that could get you in'. They don't let people in willy-nilly. It's funny the stigma that's out there."

For his own part, Flynn says DCU have played a pivotal role in his graduation to an All-Ireland winning half-forward with back-to-back All Stars from the past two seasons.

"I have developed so much as a footballer," he reflects, "and I have to say that's down to being in DCU. The facilities that are there for you - being able to use the gym whenever you want, the pitches - it's just so supportive of an athlete and trying to better yourself as a footballer.

"It's all the different things that you need to try to better yourself and I would have no problems saying it. Without DCU I wouldn't be where I am now.

"I can't say I wouldn't have won an All-Ireland but as a footballer that I've developed into ... and I think a lot of players are the same. I see lads coming in here who don't even play for their inter-county team but they break onto it - that's the development."

Flynn is currently easing his way back from a lower abdominal muscle injury that had troubled him since the All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo. He came on for the final quarter of DCU's O'Byrne Cup opener against Wicklow last Sunday - which finished in deadlock - and is now hoping for perhaps 25 minutes against the Dubs tonight.

"I'm actually looking forward to it in a way," he admits. "It's a weird one but it's early doors and I'm playing with my college, and that's all that's important at the moment, trying to get the preparation done for the Sigerson.

"It's good for the lads on the DCU team, including myself, to try to put in a performance for the new management. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

This can be a chaotic time of year for college-attending inter-county stars, but Dublin boss Jim Gavin has been happy to let Flynn get over his injury first and then focus initially on DCU.

"You're kind of thinking should I go to the Dublin session as well?" he muses. "We might be training with the college in the morning and training with the county in the evening, so what do you do?

"So it is a bit mad but luckily he's given us the leeway to concentrate on one team and for myself, coming back from injury, one session a day is probably enough."