My Club and I: Paul Flynn
In this week’s My Club and I, we speak to Dublin’s three-time All Star and two-time All-Ireland winner Paul Flynn about his club Fingallians.
Fingallians GAA are based in the Swords area of North County Dublin, situated about 10 miles from Dublin city centre. Founded in 1884, Fingallians are one of the oldest clubs in Dublin and they are based at Lawless Memorial Park.
The club caters for Gaelic football, hurling, Ladies football and camogie, at all age groups. They currently play football in the Dublin Intermediate Championship, having been relegated from the Senior Championship in 2011.
They have never won the Dublin Senior Championship, but they won the Intermediate Championship in 1957.
Fingallians have reached the Dublin Intermediate Championship final in the two seasons they have played at the grade since being relegated. They lost both finals by four points, to Cuala in 2012 and to Naomh Ólaf in 2013.
Their facilities at Lawless Park include a large clubhouse, a comprehensive gym, a high quality main pitch and an all-weather pitch, currently awaiting a major upgrade after the club secured funding for its development.
Paul Flynn could well be the most distinguished Fingallians player of all time. As a winner of three All Stars and two All-Ireland medals, there are few players in the club’s history that can match his inter-county achievements.
Colours: Red and White
Dublin SFC titles: 0
Dublin IFC titles: 1
Other famous Fingallians players of the past include Harry Keegan (Roscommon) and Kieran Duff. Keegan won three All Stars with Roscommon in the 1970s and 1980s, while Duff played at right-half-forward in the Dublin team that won the All-Ireland in 1983.
For more about the club, visit www.fingallians.com
Q: What is the area that Fingallians GAA primarily caters for and where do most of your players come from?
A: We have the greater Swords region. Swords is a very big area and has a young demographic. There are people from all different areas coming into the club. We have a reasonable pick but there are three or four clubs in the vicinity apart from us so they are all picking from the same lot so it can be quite competitive. Then there are obviously other clubs too.
In fairness to Fingallians, we are the longest serving club in Swords and probably the most prestigious. We have the best facilities and the best coaches. I’ve been down there since I was five years of age, have come all the way through and it’s a really great club.
Q: Were you always going to be a Fingallians player?
A: Yeah, I’ve been there since I was five, as I say. We were quite successful at underage, then I progressed onto the senior team and I’ve stayed there ever since.
Q: Do you have a family connection with Fingallians?
A: My father used to play out in Ballyboughal, a club in north County Dublin. But then they moved into Swords. At that time, Ballyboughal didn’t have an underage set-up and Fingallians had a better coaching set-up. All my mates from school were going there at the time as well so there was a natural draw there.
Q: Playing in the Dublin Intermediate Championship, do you get any special attention as a three-time All Star?
A: The standard at Intermediate level in Dublin is very good. But I would have to say, that I have never had any players go for me, nothing like that when I have been playing for Fingallians. In fairness, a lot of the teams from the Intermediate Championship are from north Dublin so we have had some good battles and come up against plenty of good teams. Teams like St. Pat’s Donabate for example, we have good battles with them.
Q: Who are your main rivals?
A: Well, St. Pat’s have come on strong over the past few years. Fingal Ravens as well obviously, they are probably our biggest rivals. And we usually always hammer them – make sure and put that in! This year though, unfortunately they got the upper hand but ah no, we have a good rivalry with them. A lot of us would know each other so it’s a healthy kind of rivalry.
Q: How did your underage career progress with Fingallians? Were you a late bloomer or did you have solid progress all the way through your underage career?
A: We had some great teams with Fingallians all the way from U9’s up to minor. We were always competitive in Division I and competing for titles. Like that as well, that coincided with myself going through the ranks with Dublin. I was on all the development squads, U16, minor, U21, all the way up. I would put a lot of that down to the coaching I received at Fingallians.
Q: What kind of facilities do you have at Fingallians?
A: We have a fully kitted out gym at the club. At the main pitch, we have a 100m track along the right hand side. We have a ball wall. We also have an all-weather pitch. That’s a three-quarter size all-weather pitch but it’s after getting a grant from the Irish Sports Council. That will be done up now to the top of the range with a new surface and everything. We have a large clubhouse with a hall and a bar inside as well as a good function room. So it’s a really, really good club.
Q: How have Fingallians been doing this season and in recent seasons?
A: We played in the Dublin Senior Championship for years and it was only three years ago that we got relegated back down to Intermediate. We’ve been in the Dublin Intermediate final the last two years in a row, so obviously the aim is to win the Intermediate Championship, enjoy that success for what it is, and get back to senior. We want to improve on our league performances as well (Fingallians are currently 14th in Division 2).
Q: Have Fingallians got many young players coming through at the moment?
A: Yeah, we have a young lad playing hurling with the Dublin minors at the moment, Shane Howard. There are some other young lads as well with the Dublin minor football team at the moment, Mark Campbell being one. We call him ‘Soupy’ Campbell.
Q: Are there any players on the Dublin senior football team at the minute who you came across with Fingallians in your underage days?
A: There are some, but not that many to be honest with you. At my age group, you have Kevin McManamon (St. Jude’s), I can vaguely remember playing against him, but not too much. You have Michael Darragh Macauley, but he was late coming to GAA. I remember playing with him in Development Squads but I can’t remember playing against him with Ballyboden.
So there were actually not that many.
But there were some lads at underage who were just brilliant, and a lot of them just disappeared. I can’t rightly remember some of their names. We had some good battles against St. James’ Gaels, and John O’Brien played with them – he was a good player. Round Towers and Vincent’s always had good underage teams I can remember, but I can’t quite recall the individuals.
Q: Looking back over your career to date with Fingallians, what’s your happiest memory?
A: Any time you win with your club, it’s a great day out. We’ve had a few league successes over the last couple of years. But I remember we played St. Oliver Plunkett’s in a Division II play-off match to go up to Division I. It was probably around eight years ago, before I got into the Dublin panel. They of course had the Brogans, and they had a very good team. And they were young too at the time, Alan and Bernard Brogan and Ross McConnell.
We were a team from North County Dublin playing a team with the two Brogans. We drew with them the first day, and we beat them the second day. It went to extra-time the second day and we came through. That’s probably the most memorable win I’ve ever had with the club. I was only a young lad then. I was minor at the time I think but I was playing senior football. That’s the best memory.
Q: Who are Fingallians’ ‘legends’, both on and off the field?
A: There are a number of them. We’ve got Harry Keegan, who was the Roscommon corner back for years in the 1980s (Keegan won All Stars in 1978, 1980 and 1986). He was a great footballer and he’s always around the place. Maybe our biggest ‘legend’ is Kieran Duff. He won an All-Ireland with Dublin in 1983 and he has won two All Stars as well (1987 and 1988). They are probably the best known figures around the club.
Paul Flynn is bidding to win his sixth Leinster senior football medal when Dublin take on Meath in the Leinster Senior Football Championship Final this Sunday at Croke Park. Dublin v Meath, Croke Park, Sunday, 2pm.
Image Credit: INPHO