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Saturday 21 April 2018

Flynn: I thought 'Jeez, I'm one on one here in front of the Hill, how did this happen?'

Kildare footballer Daniel Flynn
Kildare footballer Daniel Flynn
Stephen Cluxton of Dublin saves a shot from Daniel Flynn of Kildare. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

He's not quite able to look back and laugh just yet, but in a perverse sort of way, Daniel Flynn is glad he has experienced being one-on-one with Stephen Cluxton into Hill 16, despite how the scenario ended for him.

Looking back now, Flynn - who was yesterday announced as GAA/GPA Player of the Month for June - revealed he had "about five different things" in his head in the 42nd minute of the Leinster final, the moment in which he found himself in a surprising amount of space staring down the Dublin captain.

"And I did none of them."

He clarifies also that it wasn't Cluxton that unnerved him, "it was more the fact it was so open, I was a bit shocked by that.

"I couldn't see anything. I got the ball and thought 'Jeez, I'm one on one here in front of the Hill, how did this happen?'

"I thought about going around him, I thought about placing it, I thought about burying it but I ended up just kicking it at him.

"I seen it back actually on The Sunday Game," Flynn explained. "The lads were watching it in the house - they were giving me a nice time about it.

"There was so much space there to the right. I probably thought he'd save it.

Move

"Probably from training with Mark (Donnellan) and Shane (Connolly), they always dive or they always move, that was probably in my head as well.

"I thought: 'he'll jump this way'."

But Cluxton didn't jump at all.

Flynn's chance to close Dublin's lead to just three points evaporated and the All-Ireland champions kept the young pretenders outside swinging distance for the remainder of the Leinster final.

All told, it was a funny sort of day for Flynn.

He kicked two points, one of which was reminiscent of Brian Dooher's brilliant sideline-hugging, outside-of-the-boot spinner from the 2008 All-Ireland final, a leading contender for score of the year.

"I was out around midfield," he recalls, "and I kind of tapped the ball over Con O'Callaghan's head.

"My tail was up after that, I was kind of happy out."

But Flynn cut a perturbed figure after his miss and kicked a couple of wides as Dublin went through the motions of yet another Leinster final victory.

"I suppose, personally, I feel we're in a good place, but we were still beaten by nine points," Flynn admits.

"I was encouraged that we were nine points down after 20 minutes, and we were beaten by nine points.

"We were there for the rest of the game, and that third quarter was huge for us."

As was the performance of Kevin Feely.

Everyone from Kildare and plenty hailing from the counties of their Division 2 opponents this year could have vouched for his abilities long before the Leinster final but on that stage, surrounded by All-Ireland winners, he displayed his true class in a highly-pressurised environment.

"He's outstanding, he really is, he's top class," Flynn confirms.

"He's unreal, he's our vice-captain and is a big leader for us, even off the field.

"He's just one of these lads who is an all-round good fellah and is good at everything, he just plays with an air of confidence and carries himself well."

Flynn and Feely both had careers, albeit brief ones, as professional athletes.

Flynn joined Port Adelaide at the end of 2013 and played 15 games for their second team in the South Australian National Football League in 2014, including the Grand Final loss to Norwood.

The club were eager to hang on to him but after he was granted an extended absence of leave due to homesickness in 2015, he decided to remain in Kildare.

"I was happy I went but I really jumped into it," he says now.

"I was 19, I think, when they came calling and at that age I drove into it without realising what I was doing.

"Different country, different culture, on my own - but like that I think it really made me grow up, I was thrown in at the deep end and there's no-one there.

"In terms of the sports side, it's tougher, you train harder and you're in a bubble but the lifestyle and growing up as a person, that's what I really took out of it and I was happy I went."

Flynn and Kildare are back in Croke Park on Saturday against an Armagh team managed by the man under whom he made his Championship debut in 2013.

"Having lost to Dublin it does take a few days to get over, get the frustration out," he points out.

"We were disappointed with the Leinster final but at the same time we had got to a Leinster final for the first time in so many years.

"We were promoted to Division 1, we are happy enough, there is a good mood in the camp."

Flynn adds: "We'd definitely be confident."

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