Flynn: I won't just fade from blue to grey
Fingallians ace determined to win back starting position
It finished with a fifth All-Ireland SFC medal but Paul Flynn describes 2017 as the "most frustrating," season of his inter-county career.
Flynn, 31, will marry long-term girlfriend and recent ladies All-Ireland SFC winner, Fiona Hudson next week, after spending most of the summer just gone from the unusual vantage point of the Dublin bench, alongside the likes of Bernard Brogan, Michael Darragh Macauley and even Diarmuid Connolly.
Flynn is adamant, however, that he will not compliantly fade from view now and simply accept his lot as a post-20s non-starter.
Recalling how, after slowly working his way towards full fitness after a later-than-usual start to the year, the four-time All-Star revealed that he pulled a calf muscle the week before Dublin's Leinster SFC opener against Carlow on June 3, having been, by his own estimation, "in line to start".
Four weeks later, having also been forced out of Dublin's Leinster semi-final win over Westmeath, Flynn suffered an even more severe injury to the same muscle and was "lucky to make the Monaghan game as a sub".
"It completely changed my whole perspective of the season because I was like 'just get me back onto the field to play any part'," he explained.
"And when the team were playing so well, and everyone in their positions were performing so well, it was always going to be difficult to get back in.
"I felt then that I was pushing hard, and that was as much as you could have done at that point, push as hard as you could."
He acknowledges that when a long-time starter spends a summer coming off the bench, the process is rarely reversed.
"But like, I am not going to sit here and say when you reach over 30 that you are happy to sit on the bench, because I'm not," he stressed.
"I know them lads (Brogan, Macauley and Connolly) are not either. We all want to play.
"That's the thing. I think that's the strength of the squad because these boys, even if they are 30, they are guys who are starters, who would be key players in the team and they are gonna want to play again.
"So, that will just push you and you've got guys who are holding onto the jerseys who are going to have to fight to hold onto it, and then you are going to have younger guys coming up who are gonna want to try and get a piece of the action too.
"It's going to be competitive going into next year as well."
As it stands, Denis Bastick is the only member of the three-in-a-row winning squad to retire, with both Flynn and Brogan already confirming their intentions to go again in 2018.
"Anyone who is above 30, it's in the back of your mind," he admits, "but 'Bassy' has been a great servant to the jersey and a warrior, that's the way we would describe him.
"He would have been such a leader in the dressing room, the voice of reason at times. He will certainly be missed.
"There is no-one else thank god. When you are on a journey, we love it, that's the thing and you don't want it to end.
"We don't want it to end. No inter-county footballer wants it to end.
"But, when you are on a journey we are on, the friendship, the bonds you build up as a group, you really don't want it to end.
"I always feel (you should) go as long as the body allows and the body will dictate when the boots are hung up."
Flynn will return from his honeymoon on January 15.
The earlier start to next year's league means Dublin host Kildare in Croke Park just 12 days later on the competition's opening night. As it stands, he's ruling nothing out and can attest to getting game-time as early into the new season as possible.
"I will try to get back as early as I can. That is the plan," he outlines.
"I am fresh and I am ready to go. The first league game is a little bit earlier I think, the last week in January, that would only give me two weeks preparation if I could get myself up to the pace of it.
"I will be pushing hard to get back in as quick as I can. That would be the best way of putting it."
"It's a funny season this year because we finished up in the middle of September, went back to the club and it was the first year going back to the club that I had no injuries.
"I was raring for more action because I missed 10 weeks in the middle of the season and then we had two games and it was done.
"And I was like you know, so I was finished up since October, nothing to do, so I've just been keeping myself fit, just trying to do a few bits.
"It's been a long kind of 'off-season' so far already. I'm looking forward to get back in," says the Fingallians clubman.
In the meantime, he's been keeping fit by going to the gym and believe it or not, playing badminton with Stephen Cluxton.
"I wouldn't mind, he's unreal at it," Flynn laughs, explaining that the Dublin captain is a member of a club in Portmarnock.
"He's just like, we went in the first day I thought he might be kind of above average, but no, the club is a very high standard of lads that play there and he's up with the top lads.
"I was only watching from afar so I don't know whether he was the best but he definitely looks like he was doing well."