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Change won't pay: Flynn

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Paul Flynn, Dublin, speaks to his team-mates as they huddle togeter before the game. Picture: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Paul Flynn, Dublin, speaks to his team-mates as they huddle togeter before the game. Picture: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Paul Flynn, Dublin. Picture: Tomas Greally / SPORTSFILE

Paul Flynn, Dublin. Picture: Tomas Greally / SPORTSFILE

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Paul Flynn, Dublin, speaks to his team-mates as they huddle togeter before the game. Picture: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

FRIDAY night fever. It's the hot topic of the week and it has the temperature gauge soaring. Playing do-or-die championship matches on a Friday night may seem a swell idea in committee room theory, but how about in match-day reality?

This is where practical considerations (taking a day off work) meet ideological barriers (thou shalt not bend GAA rules over financial recompense) and never the twain shall meet.

"Look, if I was getting compensated I'd be 100 per cent (in favour)," says Paul Flynn, giving his tuppenceworth. "But I just know that it wouldn't suit everybody. I think it's going to cause a little bit more trouble than what it's worth, to be honest. But we'll see how it goes."

This week's polarised row over the rights and wrongs of playing inter-county games on a work night is, arguably, symptomatic of a more general disconnect between players and officialdom. Flynn, the two-time Dublin All Star, still reckons this to be the case.

"I'll probably get in trouble for saying it, but I kind of do (believe this)," he says. "I think the whole structure of football in general, or hurling for that matter ... playing football for the whole year is madness. There's no down season at all.

"When you go back to the club then, you're under pressure there and then you're straight into it with Dublin again. There's no real break.

"I've been unlucky with the fact that I've got injured for some stages – but it's been lucky for me because I've been able to take a break.

"But lads have been just constantly going, and it's a bit of a joke – especially for lads who are playing senior championship at a higher level."

So you ask what's the solution – how about condensing the inter-county season?

 

CONCURRENTLY

"I just think they should run it all concurrently. The club lads are getting screwed anyway, because they want to play ball.

"So, whenever we're playing league, they should just play league. And then fit in the championship. But no game for them should be held up.

"Like, I think we played a game in March with the club and then there was no game till May. That's crazy.

"And they could have got a full run of league games. The league could have been over practically, and then run off the championship – you can run off the championship in a month or so."

Flynn was speaking in his role as an Adidas ambassador, modelling the next instalment of the Predator Incurza boot, the XTRX SG II. He was there to talk about, among other things, Dublin's upcoming clash with Kildare on Sunday week ... But events elsewhere on Planet GAA have suddenly seen this eagerly awaited Leinster semi-final eclipsed by a qualifier fixed for the same weekend.

Two days earlier, the GAA had made its groundbreaking announcement that the All-Ireland SFC qualifier between Carlow and Laois would be held in a week's time (throw-in 7.45pm) at a venue (Dr Cullen Park) that happens to come without floodlights.

Both counties have agreed to their role of Friday night guinea pigs in this social/sporting experiment, but a number of players from either camp haven't been shy about expressing or tweeting their disgust.

Hours earlier, Flynn's own manager – Jim Gavin – had made it clear that he favoured the concept on the proviso that players were compensated for the inevitability of taking time off work, at least a half-day. This point was duly echoed by Donegal's Jim McGuinness – leaving two of the game's leading managers literally poles apart from GAA president Liam O'Neill, who has steadfastly stuck by the "rules are rules" mantra.

 

UNCONVINCED

Flynn's own take? "I love a Saturday night game," he says, in preference to Sunday, but he's unconvinced whether Friday night is a realistic runner. He also agrees with Gavin's stance on compensation, but highlights another problem where players simply can't take the day off because of pressure with bosses and deadlines.

"It's difficult for teams that have to travel," he says. "With preparation that now goes into inter-county football, you wouldn't be in a position to go to work on the day of a championship game. I wouldn't anyway – I'd just take the day off."

It's not just the question of travel stress/fatigue. The risk of distraction is all too obvious.

"You wouldn't want to be going to work and talking to people about the game that evening. Surely that can't be good?" he reasons. "If I was a manager of a team, I wouldn't be too keen on players going into work that morning, listening to all different talk."

But what's the difference between playing inter-county and club championship on a week night, as frequently happens in Dublin?

"You're going to get me in trouble now with the club, lads!" the Fingallians man laughed.

"It's a difficult question but it's different," he continued. "I haven't played in a senior championship (club) game where I'm going to be in a quarter-final or whatever.

"I'm in the intermediate championship. It's hard to even compare the two, but it's just the whole preparation.

"No matter where you go on the day of a championship game with Dublin, someone's going to want to talk to you ... whereas I might meet people and they wouldn't even know I had a football match with the club."

There's another valid consideration: at inter-county level, the public won't buy the excuse of a player who underperforms because he was stressed out at work that day.

"Oh, sorry for bringing work into our way of living – how dare I!" he quips, only half in jest. "But that's just the way it is."


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