Daniel Flynn ends his AFL career to return home to Kildare

Jason Ryan says he will re-join county panel in ‘a few weeks’ after leaving Port Adelaide

Former Kildare footballer Daniel Flynn is the latest AFL recruit to bring their professional career to a premature conclusion, and an intercounty comeback is on the horizon for him in the coming weeks.

Flynn signed a two-year contract with Port Adelaide in October 2013 after impressing scouts with his performances for Edenderry in the Hogan Cup in 2012 and then the Kildare under-21 and senior teams.

Still only 21-years-old, Flynn returned home during the Christmas period and has since decided to make the move permanent, with Kildare manager Jason Ryan explaining that he will be re-joining the panel he left two years ago - but only when he is ready.

Flynn now joins Dublin's Ciarán Kilkenny and Westmeath's John Heslin as the three most notable recruits to have turned the backs on potentially lucrative AFL contracts.


“He’s not in the panel at the moment,” said Ryan, “But we’re talking and meeting and everything, we speak regularly and his return is something that will fall into place.

“I suppose he’s settling back into normal life now, and he is doing a bit of training with his club and a bit of his own training, so hopefully he’ll be back training with us in the next few weeks.”

Flynn returned to Ireland last March, only five months into his contract, due to homesickness and the death of his grandfather. Nonetheless, he returned to Adelaide after his “leave of absence” and although he never made an AFL appearance he did feature regularly in the South Australian National Football League for the club.

Flynn was the first ever Irish rookie draft into the AFL from Tadgh Kennelly’s European combine held annually in DCU. Before his move, clubs had been recruiting their players from the GAA independently.

Flynn’s fitness levels and natural talent caught the Australians’ attention, with Port Adelaide beating the Western Bulldogs and Essendon to his signature.

“Looks he’s a very talented man and he made a big impact over there,” added Ryan. “You’d imagine he’d have learnt an awful lot, about honing certain skills, and a lot physically after exploring a professional lifestyle. So he should be a great addition.”

Flynn was an integral part of Kildare’s Leinster Under-21 winning team in 2013 as well as defying his years to be a regular for the Kildare side. Generally featuring in the half-forward line he is also adept playing in a midfield role.

Also on that under 21 and senior team were his club mates Paul Cribbin and Sean Hurley. The latter is still pursuing a career with Fremantle in Australia, while Cribbin also returned from his stint with the Collingwood club two years ago.

Meanwhile, Ryan has said early indications suggest that midfielder Tommy Moolick has not suffered a cruciate ligament injury.

Moolick suffered a knee injury playing for UCD against his native county in the weekend’s O’Byrne Cup encounter.

“He’s definitely going to be out for a few weeks anyway, he went for an MRI scan on Monday and we’re waiting on the results.

“We’re hoping it’s not the cruciate, it doesn’t seem to be as the basic tests did not indicate it.

“He would be a big loss, but people talk about the loss for the team (with cruciate ligament injuries), but it’s the players who miss out and the players who have to do the preparation work for their operation and the work after it.”

Kildare have already lost veteran Mick Foley to retirement in the past week, whilst Hugh McGrillen has opted to take a year out to travel, so Flynn's return will be a major boost for the panel and manager.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist