Sunday 25 February 2018

Flynn stays smiling despite costly injury blow

Tom Flynn : Staying positive
Tom Flynn : Staying positive
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

MANY people in Tom Flynn's shoes would have been huddled in a corner this week, immersed in self-pity, but not the bubbly Galway midfielder.

In his final year at DCU, the PE and biology student was made football captain but, when they drew highly-fancied UUJ in the first round of the Sigerson Cup, many thought their goose was cooked.

Against the odds, and drama in virtually every round, they went on to win the title last weekend yet Flynn could only watch from the sidelines on crutches.

The repercussions of the cartilage injury he suffered in extra-time of their quarter-final victory over St Mary's don't end there. Under new boss Kevin Walsh, Galway are currently unbeaten and leading Division 2.

But the knee surgery Flynn needed a fortnight ago means another six weeks recovery so he is going to miss the rest of their league campaign.

Yet he is relentlessly optimistic, pointing out that the injury is not as severe as the meniscus tear he suffered in the same knee in 2012 and he's also not alone.

"Davy Byrne (of Ballymun) was our vice-captain in DCU and he got his appendix out the week before the Sigerson weekend!" he reveals, which helps explains how the famous third-level trophy was jointly lifted by two men who couldn't play.

It is clear why DCU made Flynn captain as he enthuses about college team-mates like Roscommon's Enda Smyth, Tipp's Stephen O'Brien and Laois's Colm Begley and notes how many of their side "are brilliant footballers who play in Division 3 and 4 and just don't get long championship runs."

Despite the frustration of not playing, he describes the Sigerson victory as "such a positive thing. Davy and myself met with Niall (Moyna) and even though we couldn't play he wanted us to work in a different way for the team and keep a smile on our faces."

Flynn missed out DCU's last Sigerson victory in 2012 because he was a fresher but that team contained his great buddy Fintan O Curraoin.

After winning All-Ireland U-21 titles with Galway in 2011 and 2013, the pair were tipped to provide the midfield anchor that Galway have critically missed since Kevin Walsh and Sean O Domhnaill ruled air-traffic control in Connacht football.

Tomas O Flatharta (coincidentally, now managing table-proppers Laois who come to Tuam tomorrow) accelerated them into the county senior panel in the summer of 2011 when Flynn was just completing his Leaving Cert, and they both started in that one-point Qualifier loss to Meath.

But the weight of expectation and a succession of injuries - his knee and O Curraoin's ankle and groin - delayed their development as a senior midfield pairing until they finally got an extended run together last summer and helped Galway reach an All-Ireland quarter-final.

"That was the first time I felt we were at ease around the middle," Flynn says candidly. "We haven't been having stand-out games or anything but we were solid which is important."

Hailing from Athenry, it's no surprise that he has played U-21 hurling for Galway but his father is from Roscommon and football has long held sway in their house.

It's been a testing year so far yet Flynn is disarmingly positive and hell-bent on making their championship opener, saying: "Getting on the plane to New York now in May, that's my aim."

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