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28/07/2021

Kildare's Daniel Flynn: the smile, the pace and the magic

Magical goal confirms his class

Kildare's Daniel Flynn: the smile, the pace and the magic

Daniel Flynn

The mind takes a bit of a ramble; back to St Conleth's Park of all places; the occasion, this season's Allianz Football League when Clare were the visitors.
Heading to beautiful surroundings of the press box at the ground, I happen to spot a Kildare player, sitting in the stand, talking and chatting with a few lads, the smile on his face was unmistakable.
“Hello Daniel” I said.
“Tommy” he replied “how are you going.”
“I'm going grand but more to the point Daniel” said I, “how are you”?
“Sure I'm fine” says he.
“And how is the auld hamstring” says I.
“Ah sure it's not too bad” says he adding, “sure what can you do only get back up on the bike and go again” says he, the smile at this stage was full on.
Known the great man as I do, I try and explore has he any chance of maybe playing in the next league game after this one, so I enquire how bad is it?
“Ah, sure you know yourself.”
I laugh with the lack of information I was extracting from the Johnstownbridge man before he adds “I hope to be doing a bit of running this week, sure we'll see, but I'm hopeful.”
Sounds positive I say to myself and after wishing him the best of luck and as I continue on my journey, he adds “only thing it's the good leg this time.”
I shake my head in disbelief.
But that's Daniel, laid back to an unbelievable degree.
Rarely have we spoken, before or after a game; following a win or a defeat can I say I ever saw, or came across, Daniel Flynn down in the dumps.
Disappointed yes, on many occasions but his face is rarely without that ever-welcoming smile.
To say this man is unique, is probably an understatement.
Most days and weeks prior to a game we enquire about him, is he fit? is he available? is he ready?
The answer that comes back is usually somewhat along the same lines.
Hopefully.
Possibly.
We'll have to wait and see.
Having lined out against Cork in the opening round of the League, Daniel was forced off before half time, having kicked two points; one with his left peg; one with right peg; both majestically taken.
The next time he was on the team sheet was the game against Laois, only to be replaced before the start.
Sitting in Croker on Sunday, some 45 minutes before throw-in, the Kildare lads were walking the pitch; familiarising themselves and there among them was the bauld Daniel, smiling, water bottle in hand.
When most of the lads had departed back to the dressing room, Daniel remained, walking up to the goal mouth at the Canal End, he had all the looks of a lad that was preparing mentally for a game.
The rumour machine had been in over-drive all morning; a bit of a problem with a close contact and the talk being Daniel was ready to step in.
Finally word filtered through; two changes and Daniel was one, coming in for Darragh Kirwan.
Within four minutes of the start he was on the score sheet in a typical Daniel Flynn point, that sudden dart, that swerve, leaning one side and then the other before firing over.
Daniel was back.
On we went in a game that ebbed and flowed from one end to the next.
At one stage when the action was far removed from where Daniel was, he was spotted having a word with one of the umpires.
Then spotted having a swig from a bottle of water he had positioned behind the goals.
Laid back or what.
Out he comes again at pace, gains possession, loses control, chance gone.
Typical Daniel.
Gains possession from a ball in from Ben McCormack, he gathers, is fouled and Jimmy The Lark fires over.
Half time and a point in it.
All to play for.
Had the look of a game that could go to the wire at that stage.
Maybe a bit of individual magic might swing it.
Who knows?
Some eight minutes into the restart the Daniel Lad gains possession over the Cusack Stand side, close to the sideline, not far from the end line.
He turns and twists, nothing on.
Then suddenly he attempts an audacious kick pass, akin to firing a ball through an eye of a needle; just out of the reach of a Meath defender; Jimmy The Lark gets to it and on the second attempt punches it to the net.
Kildare on their way.
Surely.
Four minutes later and Daniel is again in possession; hand passes to a colleague; gets the return, then suddenly like a jet engine, cuts through the Westmeath defence like it just wasn't there; dips left, dips right before planting the ball in the right hand corner of Jason Daly's net.
Magical.
Absolutely magical.
The king of the hamstrings is back, and firing.
Yes, he can be frustrating.
Yes, he tries things so fast and at times so far-sighted fellow players not quick enough to respond.
Defenders do their best to quieten him; sometimes, often when he loses possession, it can be very frustrating, not just for himself and his fellow players but for the fans.
But that is the sort of player we have here.
Asked in the after-match briefing was he happy with what he got from Daniel Flynn, manager Jack O'Connor replied “He is an elite athlete” insists O'Connor adding “since I came here two years ago, I can't remember him playing two full consecutive games due to his hamstring problems, and remember he has played less than 30 minutes of football in this season alone; yet there he was at the end, defending deep in the corner of the Kildare defence.”
A couple years ago when playing Kerry, a well known native man involved with The Kingdom remarked “oh to have a player of that pace and class.”
And he was deadly serious.
Have no doubt Daniel will pick up more hamstrings, hopefully not until this voyage is over at least; have no doubt he will frustrate with the things he tries to achieve at times but also have no doubt that this player has all the attributes, has all the skills, has the power and the pace to be a real threat to the very best defences around.
Hopefully we see it on Sunday week.
Hopefully we see it against The Dubs.
Hopefully we see it for many years to come.
Hopefully we see that smile, not in the stands of St Conleth's Park, or Croke Park for that matter, but centre stage, weaving his magic on the big stage.

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