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'I was giving out every night going to training' - Flynn reinvigorated after year out

The Kildare forward is back in Jack O’Connor’s panel after stepping away from the game in 2019.

Daniel Flynn is back in the Kildare panel for 2019.
Daniel Flynn is back in the Kildare panel for 2019.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THERE IS NO shortage of new faces around the place at Kildare training these days.

For a start there is Jack O’Connor, a three-time All-Ireland winner as manager of his native Kerry, who is in the process of finding his feet with the Lilywhites since stepping into Cian O’Neill’s shoes. 

O’Connor is currently working with an extended panel of around 50 players, many of whom will be cut loose before Kildare’s National League campaign gets underway in late January.

And then, amidst all that change, you have Daniel Flynn. A familiar face that is back in the squad following a year off. 

There are not many footballers like Flynn around. The player has previously admitted that winning football matches wasn’t the be-all and end-all for him. He doesn’t keep a close eye on the wider GAA season outside of Kildare’s calendar. He simply likes playing a bit of ball with his friends, but happens to be very good at it.

While many would love to be able to take such a laid-back approach, it has also worked against Flynn on occasion, resulting in him taking a step back last season. On the back of an All Star nomination in 2018 and a Championship that saw Flynn hit 4-11, he decided he had had enough. It was a massive blow for Kildare as they tried to build on the momentum sparked by the Newbridge or Nowhere saga without their star full-forward.

on-the-ball-team-training-launch Daniel Flynn was speaking at the launch of On The Ball Team Building training camps. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

Yet when you don’t live and breath football, the demands of the inter-county scene can become something of a slog.

“I was giving out every night going to training,” Flynn admits.

“The matches were fine, I love matches, I never minded them at all but it was the Tuesday nights, Thursday nights, Friday nights going to the gym, that I’d be like ‘Ugh, I don’t want to go up here’, I’d be giving out. 

“When I’d get over there I’d be fine, but I think that’s kind of normal for lads. Sometimes you just want to chill out and not have to endure the whole thing. I just didn’t want to do anything [last year], so I didn’t.”

He was also aware of the wider picture, and how his mindset could trickle through the panel.

“For me, I was afraid that I’d start pulling the thing down and affecting the team,” he says. “The best thing for me to do was to take the time for myself and I think it’s worked a treat.  

“I’m really fresh after it and I’m mad to go back in whereas I didn’t want to get to a stage where I was pulling against what was going on and ultimately having a negative affect.  

“The hunger was missing, I think that can happen when you’re training non-stop and going from thing to thing as well – work and college – there’s a lot of different balls you have to keep in the air and something had to give.” 

It wasn’t the easy decision, but Flynn decided to step away from Kildare. While his old team-mates were going through the horrors of pre-season, he was off enjoying life in New York, catching up with some old friends. 

He came back home and concentrated on college, studying Accountancy in Maynooth, before spending the summer watching Kildare from the comfort of the stands while togging out with his club, Johnstownbridge.

Slowly, he started to feel the fire burn again.

“I was back and I was playing with the club and that was really good, to just start from scratch again and tip down the road with the boys and have a bit of fun in training,” he says.  

daniel-flynn Flynn was a key player for Kildare in 2018. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“But as the year started to go on, I was eager to get back in with Kildare. I was thinking about going back in in the middle of the year but I thought it wouldn’t be right to go back in unless I go back in fresh. 

“Maybe around last summer it was in the back of my mind and as Championship started to go on, I really wanted to go back in. That hunger built as the year went on, which was good.”

Naturally, new manager O’Connor was keen to have a man of Flynn’s talents involved. The pair met for a coffee in Maynooth, and just like that, Flynn was a Kildare player again.

At just 26 he still has plenty left to offer, yet he will take time to work himself back up to speed, as he admits he hasn’t really been to the gym in the past 12 months. And while the time away has left him reinvigorated, he is also wary of balancing the workload efficiently in a bid to avoid slipping back into a sense of disinterest. 

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“I think it’s a matter of managing it. When you’ve work, exams, you’ve other stuff going on, training would sometimes just have to take a back seat for a night, or a week, depending on what’s going on.  

“I think that’s just a matter of give and take and trying to balance everything in your life and that’ll help. When you’re training, training, training, you just get drained out. I just think it’s smart if you have a good balance.”  

Flynn is clearly excited to be back in the mix with Kildare, even if it is still too early get a sense of what life will be life in a Jack O’Connor team.

“We’re training maybe four times a week between pitch and gym so it’ll probably go up to five come the new year. So it’s not too bad, at least you’ve an extra night to yourself. Good bit of contact, it’s all football work and a good bit of running.,” he continues. 

“At the minute Jack is kind of keeping his head down. We have a panel of 50 there, so I think he’s just kind of observing and trying to, like he’s doing some of his coaching and then just stepping back and watching on. I’d imagine he’s trying to get a feel for what lads are like, the different personalities and the different characters in the set-up.

“I’d say then come the new year that will ramp up, and he won’t be afraid to tell us off if needs be.

“We’ve a whole new management team now and that kind of freshens things up automatically. There’s a good energy about the place and lads are really eager to impress. It just kind of happens automatically, I seen what Kevin Feely was saying that you just want to impress Jack due to his pedigree. We’ve a lot of young lads in as well off the U20 team and lads who impressed in the club championship, so competition is really good.

“It’s really enjoyable in there at the minute.” 

That will be music to any Kildare supporter’s ears.

Daniel Flynn was speaking at the launch of On The Ball Team Building training camps in the Dingle Peninsula. On The Ball Team Building create experiences designed to develop, energise and inspire teams to perform at their peak for the season ahead. For more information visit http://www.ontheballteambuilding.com/   

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