Tipperary native Davin Flynn delivering for Donegal
By Cian O'Connell
Davin Flynn laughs when asked about why and how a Roscrea native is suddenly a central figure in the developing Donegal hurling story.
Now living in Letterkenny, Flynn, who hurled at minor and intermediate level for Tipperary, is thoroughly enjoying his new surroundings.
“I suppose I never thought I'd see myself up here, it is just with the job I'm in at the minute they needed a rep for this end of the country so they asked me to come up to Donegal,” Flynn explains.
“I said I'd give it a go to see how I'd get on, I had a couple of connections made when I knew in advance that I was coming up.
“I had four or five months notice that I was coming up to Donegal so I met a few different lads along the road, the lads knew different people up here. I got in training with Donegal then early on in October and November, doing the gym work, it all kicked off from there then.”
This weekend brings two Championship matches for Flynn, but the demanding schedule doesn’t bother him in the slightest.
Flynn is simply delighted to be involved for Donegal against Tyrone in the Nicky Rackard Cup on Saturday before switching to Roscrea duty in the Tipperary Championship against Toomevara on Sunday. A journey of 194 miles divides Carrickmore and Moneygall, but Flynn will plough on unperturbed.
“That's right, it will be a tough weekend on the legs, but it is a Bank Holiday Monday so I'll have that to recover before I go back to work on Tuesday,” Flynn jokes.
It has been mutually beneficial, though, because Donegal have claimed an Allianz Hurling League Division 3A title with Flynn registering 2-8 in that decider.
The 1-19 to 0-13 success over Armagh in the Nicky Rackard Cup brought further encouragement for Flynn, who nailed 1-5 from play.
Ultimately, reaching the Rackard decider at GAA headquarters is the objective. “According to the lads it was 16 or 17 years since they beat Armagh,” Flynn says. “You have lads that are on the panel for 12 or 13 years playing for Donegal, the likes of Danny Cullen and Joe Boyle, all the older heads that are around for many years. I think they might have only beaten Armagh once in their careers.
“So it was a massive, massive lift for the lads. We have another guy in, Declan Coulter, he was a (Nicky Rackard Cup) All Star with Armagh as well, he is a great addition.
“Everything seems to be going well. Getting that win over Armagh has given us a belief that we can go all the way to get to Croker in June. That is the aim. The first aim was to win the League, that was mission accomplished, so the next plan is to try to get to Croke Park.”
Back in 2010 Flynn hurled in a couple of absorbing Munster Minor Championship clashes against Cork and Clare. Cork beat Tipp by 2-31 to 4-22 and Clare defeated the Premier County by 0-17 to 1-13.
The team lists from those matches are laced with marquee names – Christopher Joyce and Conor Lehane featured for Cork. Paul Flanagan, Seadna Morey, Colm Galvin, Aaron Cunningham, Podge Colins, and Tony Kelly were among Clare’s crew, while Cathal Barrett, Seamus Kennedy, Jason Forde, and Niall O'Meara played for Tipp.
During those fixtures Flynn was a central figure for Tipperary. “That's right, I've to cast my mind back. They were good games alright in fairness, that was minor, but then I trained as an electrician first before I went into sales.
“I was working away a lot with the electrical company I was with, I was in Kerry for a while and different places all over the country, I was in Sligo too.
“I nearly pulled back a bit from the hurling for a while, that was probably a mistake I made to be honest. I hadn't really been on the scene for a while, I was only really playing for the club.
“Last year I only played with the club, in 2015 I played with the Tipp Intermediates, I was going well with the club and they called me into the senior set-up, but I was in the middle of moving to Donegal at the time so I pulled the plug on that. It seems to be working out in my favour because I'm really enjoying playing for Donegal. We are doing the business so far.”
Flynn’s Donegal colleagues have been a significant help on and off the field meaning the transition has been smooth. “They didn't know me from Adam, they just knew I was from Tipperary really. They all took me on board and knew that I was interested in the hurling, it seems to be going alright at the minute.
“I don't know how long I would have stuck this to be honest. When I was coming up my boss said to me go up, give it a go, see how you get on. If I didn't have those lads around me, to be honest, I'd have been bored and probably would have pulled the plug after a couple of months.
“It really feels like home now, it is a home away from home for me even though it is five hours away. It doesn't feel like I'm away from home, I settled straightaway, the lads took me on even away from hurling.”
The close knit Donegal hurling crew, managed by Ardal McDermott, continue to impress Flynn, who has been in prolific scoring form recently. “They took me on as one of their own,” Flynn admits.
“Away from running around on a Tuesday and Friday night, if they were going away for a weekend or whatever they'd bring me, they made me part of the group which made me settle down straightaway.
“It is reflected on the field then because we have all gelled together as a team as well. I'm hanging around with the same lads off the field, that is the way it seems to be clicking for us.”
The blood red and white shirt of Roscrea will always be relevant to Flynn. “I'm up here for the foreseeable future, but this year I'm still involved with my club in Roscrea, we are out this Sunday in the first round of the Championship against Toomevara.
“I will be travelling up and down the road this summer, it is a bit of a distance, four and a half or five hours to get back down home.
“Last year we got to the Semi-Final of the North Championship. Kildangan were a far better team on the day, we have a young enough team coming through. We have young lads there, we thought it might have taken us four or five years to build something with the young lads coming through, but we got to that Semi-Final last year which we were happy enough about.
“Kildangan are a really good side, they just showed their class on the day. If it was any other team in the North maybe we could have went by them to get to a North Final. We will give it another rattle this year to see how we get on. We have a bye in the first round of the North this year, but we are playing Toome (Toomevara) in the first round of the County Fixtures on Sunday.
“We are going well enough. I've been up here in Donegal so I haven't been doing a whole pile with Roscrea yet, I will go back down now once the matches start kicking off. The Nicky Rackard is over in June now if we go all the way, that will leave me free at the weekends, I will probably heading down the road every second weekend or whatever to keep in with the lads.”
Assisting in Donegal’s rise is firmly on Flynn’s agenda too. Small, but important steps are being taken in the north west. “To be honest I wouldn't have seen any of Donegal down through the years, I never had a connection with Donegal so I wouldn't have came across them,” Flynn acknowledges.
“Since I came in with them in October and November, we were doing a bit of gym work, I was only getting to know the lads, it was a bit of craic in the gym. I remember the full back Jamesie Donnelly saying to me ‘when we get out on the field, this will be a different story Davin’.
“These lads must be really into it, I thought, I'd never really heard much about Donegal. So these lads must be into it and when we went out on the field it was a different ball game, it was serious. The lads are unbelievably dedicated to it, I knew we could go places.
“Thankfully we won the League and we are kicking on in the Nicky Rackard because there are serious, serious hurlers up here. They are so dedicated to it.” Flynn is too; a busy summer with Donegal and Roscrea beckons.