Out like Flynn: Kildare face a summer without key player
Team will miss young star at Leinster championship opener against Wicklow
Daniel Flynn: Johnstownbridge player has stepped away from the Kildare panel for the 2019 Allianz Football League to concentrate on studying for a Masters. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Such was Daniel Flynn’s unmistakable impact on Kildare’s football championship of 2018 that it’s hard to envisage a summer without him. It remains to be seen how long that continues.
Kildare open their campaign against Wicklow at Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday, a first round of the Leinster championship that on paper may appear a relatively easy assignment for Kildare manager Cian O’Neill. Kildare finished fourth in division two of the league, while Wicklow finished fifth in division four.
There is, however, still the fresh reminder of last year’s Leinster quarter-final, when Kildare were taken out by Carlow, before going on a qualifier-winning run that saw them beat Derry, Longford, Mayo and Fermanagh to make the Super-8s.
Flynn was central to that impressive run, finishing with a final championships tally of 4-11, plus an All Star football nomination; he scored two points in the celebrated “Newbridge or nowhere” win over Mayo, and, at age 25, the Johnstownbridge player looked poised to improve again in 2019.
But shortly before Christmas, Flynn announced his decision to step away from the Kildare panel for the 2019 Allianz Football League, with no set date on his potential return. He spent some time in the US but has subsequently resumed studying for a Masters degree in accounting in Maynooth University.
Two weekends ago Flynn was also prominent as Johnstownbridge claimed the local bragging rights with a 1-13 to 0-13 victory over Carbury in the first round of the Kildare football championship, scoring two points from play.
However, he hasn’t yet signalled any intention of a potential return to the Kildare panel, former team-mate Kevin Feely last week suggesting that it would be “unfair” to ask him back at this stage, especially given his academic load.
That’s not to say Flynn wouldn’t be welcomed back, and it remains to be seen exactly how that situation unfolds over the summer. Kildare captain Eoin Doyle has also been nursing his way back from a hamstring injury while fellow defender Kevin Flynn sustained an injury playing for Celbridge in their Kildare championship match, but is expected to be fit for Saturday evening.
Elsewhere, Leitrim manager Terry Hyland has a relatively clean bill of health going into Sunday’s Connacht football quarter-final against Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park (3.30pm). Team captain Michael McWeeney is fit after recovering from a knee injury in a club match, wing forward Damien Moran the only absentee with a knee injury.