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Flynn revels in new Blue dawn


Dublin football All Star Paul Flynn. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Dublin football All Star Paul Flynn. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE


Dublin football All Star Paul Flynn. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SOMETIMES, when you're in the midst of transformation, you don't even realise it. Bar the last couple of minutes in Killarney, Paul Flynn has been a permanent presence on the pitch during Dublin's first four outings in this year's Allianz Football League.

Perhaps the two-time All Star has been so busy doing what he does best that he hasn't had time to stop and consider just how much Dublin, under their new manager Jim Gavin, have changed.

It would be misleading to call it a Sky Blue revolution, but the personnel have certainly altered and likewise the tactics.

Without too much negative upheaval either: after four straight victories, Dublin stand on the cusp of semi-final qualification ahead of Saturday night's latest Spring Series top-flight encounter with Tyrone.

You remind him that Gavin has already used 30 players, starting or off the bench, during these four games and Dublin's workaholic wing-forward does a double-take, such is his surprise.

"Thirty players in the four? Jesus, that's a lot," he says, speaking at a Parnell Park press conference where Skins were announced as the official compression and therapeutic garments partner of the Dublin county board.

According to Flynn, Gavin has "no problem" telling his players that he'll be emptying the bench every game. The manager has spelled out another message loud and clear: even though the Ballymun brigade and several injured erstwhile regulars will come back into the frame later this spring, they will have to fight doubly hard to break back into the team.



As Flynn explains: "You mentioned the Ballymun lads – fingers crossed they can go out now on the weekend and win the All-Ireland with their club; it would be good for the community. But it's the lads in the jerseys who are going to hold onto them, if they're playing well enough."

Based on his lung-busting contribution against Kildare last Sunday, Flynn currently has the No 10 jersey in a vice-grip.

"We were happy with the second-half performance. At half-time we probably weren't too happy – we probably wasted a lot of possession and we kicked away a lot of ball and we weren't clinical in front of goal. But in the second half we turned it around. Now, we still kicked a lot of wides but we have to be happy," the Fingallians man says, with just a smidgen of understatement after Dublin's 13-point demolition job.

Asked if he has noticed much of a change in Dublin's game-plan under Gavin, he maintains: "I haven't noticed too much of a difference, as a wing-forward anyway! It's the same kind of engine room. But with regards to how we're playing, I suppose we're trying to play a little bit more of an attacking style of football.

"We're getting good scores, but we need to be a bit tighter in defence because we've let away two sloppy goals there on Sunday and we need to eradicate that."

Is he surprised that Gavin has embraced attack, when so many other managers seem to favour blanket defence?

"Hopefully it works in cycles, and maybe everyone might go with this approach because it's a lot more attractive to watch," Flynn responds. "I can only speak for ourselves. We're still working on the defensive side of things as well, but it's probably just trying to have a nice balance."

He accepts as "inevitable" that Dublin might concede more overall if they are committing more men forward, but adds: "Hopefully we can work hard enough all around the field so that we can keep that to a minimum."

Flynn is happy to embrace the madness of March, with league matches coming thick and fast, four weekends on the trot. As for Saturday's Croke Park date with Tyrone, he is anticipating a "massive game" between two teams near the top of the league.

He is also, you sense, relishing the opportunity to prove himself all over again to a new Dublin senior manager, his third. He was overage by the time Gavin took charge of the Dublin U21s in 2008.

"I didn't know him and it's like anything, a new job, when someone new comes in you're trying to prove yourself," he explains.

"I felt I had to prove myself right from the start again. I had that attitude so hopefully it's worked out well. He's started me in every game so I'm happy enough with the way things are going."