Thursday 27 October 2016

Frank Roche: Flynn a reborn Lily as Oz life fades

Kildare ace leaped head first when Adelaide came calling, but he's glad to be back home

Kildare’s Daniel Flynn Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare’s Daniel Flynn Photo: Sportsfile

Never try it and you'll never know. Kildare fans would never have got to savour last Sunday's opening goal in Mullingar if Daniel Flynn didn't have the ambition, instinct - call it what you will - to spy a fissure in the centre of Westmeath's defence and just go for it.

Flynn attempted something audacious ... the end result was something spectacular.

The Kildare youngster tried something else a couple of years back - a pro career in Australian Rules - but it just wasn't for him.

Never try it and you'll never know.

Flynn's failure to settle into his new life initially resulted in a leave of absence, in March 2014; he returned later that spring but then announced he was coming home for good the following January.

He is not alone. Westmeath's John Heslin and Dublin All Star Ciarán Kilkenny are two similar examples, albeit the Johnstownbridge man lasted longer than either.


Port Adelaide's loss should have been Kildare's gain, only for groin surgery to make last season a virtual write-off.

But now the 22-year-old is firmly back, re-embracing his old sporting life under a new manager (Cian O'Neill). On Sunday he'll be gunning to maintain Kildare's early Allianz League momentum with a second brace of Division Three points at home to Offaly.

Still, St Conleth's Park ain't quite the sun-kissed land of Oz. Does he still harbour the odd regret? "To be honest, I jumped at it," he says, recalling his original decision to go.

"Give the opportunity to any young man to go and play - I just leaped at it. I didn't realise … different country, I didn't know anyone, never played the game.

"Now, I'm grateful I went. I grew an awful lot as a person over the year there and was delighted to get away.

"But yeah, I would have a bit of regret about coming home - but at the same time I'm delighted to be home, I really am, and I've kind of put it to bed now.

"Ah still, it was nice waking up with the sun every morning!"

What was the biggest adjustment: a foreign land or a foreign game?

"Yeah, the game for a little while. But more a kind of self-belief, confidence thing, of belonging there and being there. That's what I struggled with the most," he admits.

"People say you're a big fish in a small pond and this sort of thing, and you don't have the same sort of confidence and you're kind of second-guessing yourself.

"That was kind of a struggle for me. But the game was very enjoyable. It was kind of like football with no rules, to be honest! That's what it was! It was a great game to play, I'd love to play it again."

Last year, on his homecoming, he was part of Jason Ryan's squad for a relatively fleeting period.

"I was meant to go last year (to America) but I didn't go. I had surgery last year on my Gilmore's groin so I couldn't go, and I decided to take the rest of the year out," he explains.

"I had the operation around April. Everyone thought I was gone away, but I didn't stir at all. I was inside in Johnstown working in The Hamlet!

"I played a couple of games with the club in the championship, but I hadn't done any football and was playing because it was the club - I wasn't fit really. So I'm kind of starting fresh, as of this year ... and it's good to get back in. Like you said, the last couple of years have been up and down and it's a bit of a focus, to bury my head in it and get back to normality. The college as well is helping."

A hamstring strain forced Flynn to sit out Athlone IT's all-too-brief Sigerson Cup campaign against holders DCU, but he had recovered just in time to be parachuted in for Sunday's league opener in Westmeath. Cue that remarkable solo run goal.


"You've a new manager, a whole new backroom team. We're getting very well looked after - we don't want for anything," he enthuses.

"Training is fresh, everything is energetic, there's a good buzz about the place. But there seems to be a good buzz about the county again, that we're kind of back."

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