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Flynn: Our style won't affect me

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Dublin footballer Paul Flynn in attendance at the launch of the jersey initiative and Pieta House ‘MIND OUR MEN’ campaign. Picture:: David Maher/Sportsfile.

Dublin footballer Paul Flynn in attendance at the launch of the jersey initiative and Pieta House ‘MIND OUR MEN’ campaign. Picture:: David Maher/Sportsfile.

Dublin footballer Paul Flynn in attendance at the launch of the jersey initiative and Pieta House ‘MIND OUR MEN’ campaign. Picture:: David Maher/Sportsfile.

PAUL FLYNN, Michael Murphy, Aidan Walsh...

That's not the opening paragraph to a feature about some 'Dream Championship XV' or a wish list for every county manager currently in operation, it's the occupants of a house on Dublin's Northside, three football colossi in the one dwelling, all DCU students studying physical education, an All-Ireland medal apiece from one or other of the past three seasons.

The line-up evokes interesting imaginary scenarios.

Which one leaves their milky cereal bowl out too long? Whose gear bag smells worst and has to be kept in the hallway?

Do Flynn and Walsh sneeringly wave their two All Star awards at Murphy's paltry one?

Or does Murphy's status as the standing All-Ireland winning captain exempt him from tea-making duties until September?

If it sounds like the ideal set for a Big Brother style GAA experiment, it's not quite so dominated with football, according to Flynn.

"Everyone is a bit a cagey," he laughs. "You don't say anything.

"Ah, we just have the craic. Lads just having a bit of banter and stuff.

"When it comes to football, we respect each other to the extent where, I'm not going to ask Michael Murphy what he was doing in his training camp last week. Likewise, he's not going to ring me and ask: 'what are you doing at training?' There is that kind of mutual respect there. That is probably how we get on so well. Because if we started getting involved in the football side of things too much, it would definitely affect the friendship.

"We talk about football like anyone might talk about football with people informally. But we don't talk about football in terms of training. We talk about if there is any scandal or anything like that. But we don't talk about tactics."

Who, then, is the better player between Murphy and Walsh?

"Emmmm... I'm not going to answer that one."

ON Saturday morning, Flynn will embark on a familiar walk from his family home – rather than All Star House – around to a nearby graveyard and pass a few minutes chatting to a couple of people close to him that he has lost prematurely in recent years.

Recently, he has appeared on Brendan O'Connor's Saturday Night Show alongside Peter Coonan, the actor who plays Fran in RTÉ's epic Love/Hate, speaking out for Pieta House's 'Mind Our Men' campaign, and this very interview was part of his ambassadorial work for the same organisation, having lost a close friend to suicide in March of last year.

"It just helps you put things in perspective," Flynn explains. "This is just a football match and there are more important things to be worried about. It calms you down a bit."

The journey is part of a well-worn routine now. Flynn is both a stickler for detail and, perhaps without realising, a veteran of this current Dublin team and as such, all his various pre-match habits are varnished and familiar.

"I tweak it a little bit for different games. Depending on who I'm playing against or what I need to get out of the game myself, but the template is always the same.

"I have little things I might do the morning of a game or things I might do the evening before. It might be to the annoyance of my other family members," he shrugs, "but that's just the way it is."

Such psychological matters have become an intrinsic part of inter-county player's preparations, illustrated symmetrically by the presence of Bernard Dunne in the Dublin backroom team and double Paralympic gold medalist Mark Rohan in Westmeath's managerial entourage in Croke Park on Saturday, both of whom tasked with bringing an extra couple of per cent out of their respective squads.

"I suppose they just give a little bit of insight into the difficulties they have faced and how they achieve success and what they did to achieve success and I'm sure it is no different with Mark," says Flynn.

 

SPARK

"It's about finding little things here and there and if something like that gives you a little spark or a little edge, it is great," he adds, although he admits to not having utilised Dunne's expertise too thoroughly so far.

"I have my own routines and ways of preparing myself for a game," Flynn explains. "I don't like to change that too often. It's fixed. But if I had a problem or I felt a bit down or I felt that things weren't going my way, I would have no hassle asking him for help."

PART of Paul Flynn thinks it would be a significant development in Gaelic football if Dublin were to prosper this year, so heavily weighted on attack. And the same part of him likes to think their league style won't necessarily have to be toned down for summer utilisation.

"I would like to think not. It would be nice to go the way we're going and hopefully it works out. But that's Jim's decision. He's the one that is going to make the call on that and he hasn't given us any insight into that yet. I'm sure over the next few games, it will sort itself out."

Part of him, though – admittedly – doesn't really care. Just so long as Dublin prosper.

And yet another piece of his psyche – the selfless portion – recognises that as a half-forward, Gaelic football's equivalent of a one-man band, it doesn't actually matter a whole lot anyway.

"No matter how offensive we play, I still seem to be going the wrong way the whole time," he points out. "I don't get the choice when I have a wing-back flying forward at 100 miles per hour. I have to chase him. I just play it the way I see it. And you have to be able to have that freedom to trust players to do the right thing at the time.

"And wouldn't it be nice to do well with this and maybe football might take a bit of a U-turn? It has happened in the past so you never know. It could go back that way."

FLYNN made his summer debut against Westmeath in 2008, on a day when Tomás Ó Flatharta's men proved almost too tough a nut for Dublin to crack and the Fingallian's man admits: "We were blessed to get through."

A month previously, he was suspended for the Division 2 Final defeat to Westmeath for his part in the Parnell Park fracas with Meath.

He knows their captain, Kieran Gavin, very well from their time in DCU together, and praising him as "a brilliant full-back, a good bloke and a good leader".

Other than that, there hasn't been much of a rivalry through his career.

"Last year probably wasn't their best," Flynn points out. "But it was only a matter of time until they came back because when I broke onto the Dublin panel, they were one of the big players in Leinster and every time we played them, we had difficulties."

He has heard all the 'Dublin-have-an-advantage-from-playing-all-their-matches-in-Croke-Park' argument a million times and doesn't really know what to say about it, other than: "If they want to play it down in Westmeath, I'll go down and play them down there."

 

FOOTHOLD

"The first 20 minutes is going to be crucial for both teams to get a foothold in the game and get control of the game. I would imagine it will be quite intense for the first 20."

Otherwise, he's just happy to be facing into a new summer with new management and surrounded by the shoots of Dublin's underage success.

And while others might, he doesn't differentiate between himself and the rest of the 2011 All-Ireland winners, and those who have come in since.

"It's hard to think about that because the personnel have changed so much. I don't know how many lads are gone but it is probably in the double figures," Flynn points out.

"So it is a different set-up. You just deal with what you have in front of you. And it's not that you forget what has happened in the past, you live in the moment and deal with the current stuff more so because if you get caught up with the past, it can just be a negative to the panel."

And as his equally famous house-mates might point out, negativity just isn't Flynn's thing.


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