Paul Flynn looking forward to a different kind of test
International Rules challenge against Australia ‘a great experience’ says Dublin stalwart
Dublin stars Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan with Aer Lingus cabin crew member Mary Wade yesterday launching the Aer Lingus Big Take Off Sale. As part of the sale, Aer Lingus are taking up to half price off all fares with over 3 million seats to over 70 destinations. Photo: Jason Clarke
The national backdrop to this year’s International Rules series with Australia continues to be club versus country, Dublin’s Paul Flynn describing the conflict as “mad” – and for good reason.
While the Australians will be polishing off their preparations for Saturday’s opening Test in Cavan with the thorough sense of professionalism they’re used to, several Irish players continue to juggle club commitments, with Flynn actually playing with Fingallians in this evening’s Dublin intermediate county final.
Flynn is one of three of Dublin’s All-Ireland winners named in Ireland manager Paul Earley’s 23-man match panel (along with Ciarán Kilkenny and Jack McCaffrey), while among the other major club versus country conflicts is with Irish captain Michael Murphy, who less than 24 hours after Saturday’s opening Test in Kingspan Breffni Park will play with his club, Glenswilly, in the Donegal county final.
Many players have knowingly missed out, putting club before country, partly influenced by the fact club fixtures don’t appear to be in any way movable. Murphy’s club request to have their date postponed was turned down.
“It’s amazing that lads can’t go because of club, and it’s mad the way the GAA is run,” says Flynn. “I’ve never won anything with the club. Ever. If we win on Wednesday, I’ll still play Saturday, because for me it’s a great experience, the prestige that goes with it.
“I couldn’t play in 2011, after Dublin won the All-Ireland, because I hurt my hamstring. Next year I won’t be able to play because my sister is getting married, so this is really my only chance to play.
“Paul Earley has been great, accepted I was still in club action, carrying knocks, has given me time off when it was needed. There are a few of the lads from college there and it’s great to get to play with the likes of Michael Murphy and Aidan Walsh. I think it’s a great game. We played a friendly the other night and I enjoyed it so I’m looking forward to it.”
Flynn has been impressed by the Irish team spirit – despite the players coming from rival counties: “You’d think that, but you see the likes of Ciaran McKeever (Armagh) and Neil McGee (Donegal) are best mates, and you mightn’t have thought that. You realise we are all very similar.”
What Flynn is not so sure about is what to expect from the Australians. “He ( Earley) has given us a bit of information on each of the players. I don’t watch it, so I don’t know that much about it.
“But I know there is one lad who is coming over and he’s on an AUS$10 million contract so that’s the calibre you are up against. They are all indigenous players and fast and nimble on their feet.
“But I was laughing the other night in the friendly game. Jack McCaffrey went on a run and he went around about four fellas and I turned around to Colm Begley and said ‘Will they be as fast as him?’ and he said they’d be faster. And I was asking how they could be?
“But that’s what we are up against – professional athletes. If we can stop their running game we could do well because I don’t think they’ll be as good at kicking as we are.
“The tackling is something you have to get used to. It’s hard because your instinct is to stand off and ghost him but you are meant to go for him and pull him down.”
Flynn is also looking forward to the official off-season, when he can fully enjoy Dublin’s All-Ireland success which he describes as “nearly better” than 2011. “After the last one, the whole county came to a standstill for nearly a week. But this time, in a way, it was nearly better, because the real GAA fans, the ones who really cared, were all there.”