Flynn Fires Warning Shot As Dubs Ready To Explode.
All Ireland SFC semi-final
Donegal v Dublin
Sunday: Croke Park, 3.30pm
To regard Paul Flynn now is to recognise him as one of, if not the best all-round footballer currently playing the game.
Take a gander at his first point against Monaghan earlier this month and marvel at his technique to punt so accurately from angle and distance.
Yet his score-taking, the 28-year-old admits, was the weakest part of his suit for the majority of his inter-county career. Until he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“There’s no secret that I was horrendous at shooting a couple of years back and I didn’t have any confidence whatsoever in it. So I said to myself that if I was going to be playing wing-forward for Dublin, that if I got opportunities to score — it might only be two a game — that I convert them. So I worked a lot on it.
Going back to being in college (DCU), that helped because I had more time to be able to spend on it and try and get my technique right. Pat (Gilroy) and Mickey (Whelan), in fairness, were very good in that regard too.”
His old college room-mate and the opposing captain this Sunday, Michael Murphy, also assisted. “Me and Mick used to go kicking when we were in college. I’d be looking back on tape and annoyed at seeing an opportunity that I clearly should have scored.”
Flynn has made a pact with himself to take his chances when they come, but Dublin, as much as they have been creating incredible tallies of opportunities, are only converting approximately half of them.
That Dublin are averaging 15 point victories this summer has paved over such mediocre returns, but can they afford more profligacy as the season develops?
“One out of two isn’t good enough,” acknowledges Flynn. “You’d be surprised if you look through a season. If you look at the great Kerry team from a few years back, if they converted 60% in a season, that would be very good.”
Flynn will chat with Murphy after Sunday’s game but for now there’s been a respectful silence between the pair. “I texted Mick to congratulate him on his new (Letterkenny sports) shop. I haven’t had an open conversation with him on how we’re going to set up, and I don’t think he’s going to text me to tell me how they’re going to set up! “At the end of the day, life goes on too and no matter who wins the game, it doesn’t mean we won’t be friends. I don’t let emotion get involved too much. I just go out and play the game and get on with it.”
His admiration for Murphy still holds strong. “He’s been a good player since he was around 12 playing for the senior team in Donegal!” he laughs. “He’s been around for years and he’s still only 25. He’s obviously a great footballer and we’re going to have to try and nullify his effect on the game as much as we can.”
Murphy is likely to play deep as Donegal set out to contain Dublin for as long as they can. Flynn is anticipating Donegal will park the bus akin to what they did in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final.
“Something similar but I think we’ve got preparation in terms of the way Monaghan set up. It’s not the exact same. They didn’t implement it as well as Monaghan can but it gave us a bit of an eye-opener to how difficult it’s going to be. The first 20 minutes against Monaghan was tight. I imagine it’s going to be like that for the whole game next Sunday.”
Just like three years ago under Gilroy, Dublin will be under orders not to become frustrated and lose patience if they find themselves up against a wall. “Try and keep believing in your game-plan and keep working to implement it. Don’t try and change anything because of the fact that you’re playing something a bit different to what you usually play against.” (Irish Examiner)