2019 was a year to forget for the Kildare footballers but for Daniel Flynn, it was the year in which his love for Gaelic Football was reinvigorated.
Flynn had a sensational season in 2018. He scored 4-11 in their championship run and received an All-Star nomination. From the outside, it looked as though he would be ‘the next big thing’ to come out of the Lilywhites.
Yet, inside the camp and with so much else on his plate, the then 23-year-old had lost his enjoyment and enthusiasm for the sport.
“I was giving out every night going to training. The matches were fine, I love matches, I never minded them at all but it was the Tuesday nights, Thursday nights, Friday nights going to the gym, that I’d be like ‘ugh, I don’t want to go up here’, I’d be giving out.
“When I’d get over there, I’d be fine but I think that’s kind of normal for lads. Sometimes you just want to chill out and not have to endure the whole thing. I just didn’t want to do anything.
“The hunger was missing, I think that can happen when you’re training non-stop and going from thing to thing as well – work and college – there’s a lot of different balls you have to keep in the air and something had to give.”
As we are seeing more regularly with inter-county players, a break away from the set-up was exactly what Flynn needed to reignite his love for Kildare and football. He stepped away from the county panel for 2019 and travelled to New York for a number of weeks.
Upon his return from America, the Johnstownbridge man settled into the club life almost immediately and within a few weeks, he was yearning to return to the white jersey. However, Flynn decided that his return mid-season might only disrupt the panel and so decided to keep his distance.
Yet there was no denying that the hunger for inter-county life had well and truly returned.
“For me, I was afraid that I’d start pulling the thing down and affecting the team. The best thing for me to do was to take the time for myself and I think it’s worked a treat.
“I’m really fresh after it and I’m mad to go back in whereas I didn’t want to get to a stage where I was pulling against what was going on and ultimately having a negative effect.”
Cian O’Neill’s tenure as Kildare manager came to a disappointing end in 2019 as the side failed to make it out of Division 2 of the National League while they also fell short of a place in the Super 8s.
However, with Flynn’s return, an injection of youth, and most importantly, the appointment of Jack O’Connor as Kildare boss, the county is feeling positive ahead of the 2020 season.
For the moment, Flynn is focusing on returning to the pace of inter-county life. The panel are deep into their preseason preparations which means a not-so-welcome return to the gym and running for the 26-year-old.
“I haven’t been fit in five years!”, laughs Flynn.
“It is tough to get back into it but it’s like anything, you just have to keep doing it. I don’t think I’ve been to the gym in a year.
“We’re back training since the start of November so it’s not too bad. We’re training maybe four times a week between pitch and gym so it’ll probably go up to five come the new year. So it’s not too bad, at least you’ve an extra night to yourself. A good bit of contact, it’s all football work and a good bit of running.”