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Thursday 21 November 2019

'If you were hurting he'd want to make it right for you'

OLD FRIENDS: Former Dublin ace Alan Brogan.
OLD FRIENDS: Former Dublin ace Alan Brogan.

Alan Brogan recalls a text message he sent to Paul Flynn on the morning of Kerry's All-Ireland final clash with Cork in 2009.

At that stage, Flynn had been on the Dublin panel for two years, a hurricane of unrefined but positive energy.

"There was no doubting his talent, his appetite and his hunger," Brogan says now.

"But he was so eage r to please, he was prone to making the odd mistake or the odd rash decision."

"So I texted him before that match and told him to watch out for Paul Galvin; how he never gave the ball away and how calm he was always in possession."

"Flynner went on to match him and if anything, he was probably even a better finisher by the end."

It says much about the distance travelling by Flynn as a player over the following few years that Brogan describes him now "one of the most - if not the most - important cog in that Dublin team, apart from Stephen Cluxton."

"He became a very good kick passer, which he wasn't at the start. He became a very good scorer, too. And the four All Stars he won during that time is evidence of all that."

"But," Brogan adds, "for me, his attitude in the Dublin dressing-room is his lasting legacy."

"He's the ideal team-mate. He always put the team before himself.

Cherish

"His contribution to the Dublin football team was immense on the field but his contribution to the dressing-room was even greater."

"For the seven or eight years we played together, we had some great times with each other.

"Some of them on the pitch but the ones off the pitch are the ones that I'll cherish the most."

Given his inter-county debut by 'Pillar' Caffrey as a second-half substitute in Dublin's first-round O'Byrne Cup victory over Wicklow on 5 January 2008 in Parnell Park, Flynn's development accelerated under the management of Pat Gilroy.

"A brave, honest, lion-hearted player," is Gilroy's description of the Fingallian's man when contacted, adding he was "incredible loyal and intelligent," during his four-year period as manager during which Flynn became one of the most influential footballers in the country.

Gilroy praised Flynn for giving his club and county "great service," and described his wife, Fiona - an All-Ireland ladies winner with Dublin - as "an incredible partner who supported him always."

Just eight weeks ago, Brian Howard was asked about the man he effectively repl aced in the Dublin team.

"It's a funny place to be," he admitted, "because I remember him presenting medals to me when we won the minor championship and I was aspiring to be the likes of him."

"He's been a great role model for me, taken me aside at training and given me advice: 'how are you doing at this,' or 'what do feel you need to work on?'

"He's backed me 100 per cent even though I might be playing ahead of him."

Brogan recalls - somewhat incredulously - how Flynn played in the 2011 All-Ireland final with a torn hamstring.

"I didn't think he'd make it," he admits.

"And he was a huge part of that team. It was a huge sense of relief we could get so much out of him."

That was the first of Flynn's six All-Ireland medals, to go with the 10 Leinster titles and four All Stars he accumulated.

"But for the guys that played with him, it's more than just what he did on the field, it's the friend he became that will possibly be my abiding memory," Brogan stresses.

"He's an emotional type of fella. If you were hurting, he'd be hurting for you. He'd want to make things right for you.

"And if guys needed a bit of protection on the field, he'd be there for you

"That's the sort of fella he is. He always puts the team before himself," Brogan adds. "He was completely selfless."

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