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Anger Management with Pat Flynn

Interview with Pat Flynn for Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers v Galway United, Airtricity League, 24 September 2010)

It was certainly a very poor performance and made headlines when we could have done without them. Conditions did not help but the man in charge was quick to acknowledge the disappointing performance. While Taoiseach Brian Cowan was giving his infamous radio interview that Tuesday morning, Michael O’Neill, along with his squad of players including Pat Flynn, was reflecting on Shamrock Rovers’ shock 5-1 defeat away to Dundalk the night before. It was British Labour Prime Minister Howard Wilson who famously said that “a week is a long time in politics” and this may well have struck Ireland’s Taoiseach with his recent controversies. It could also be said that a week is a long time in football. In Rovers’ case it was a mere four days as Rovers went into the game in Dundalk flying high after their impressive 3-1 win against Saint Patrick’s Athletic the previous Friday. The media, and it has to be said many Rovers fans, felt after that win in Richmond Park that the league title was coming to Tallaght this season. Following the defeat in Dundalk, many weren’t quite so sure and so it was vital for the Hoops to get back to winning ways in the next game which took place last Friday night. It was an FAI Ford Cup quarter final against tonight’s opponents Galway United that Rovers used to get their league defeat out of their system. There were another six goals in that match but with the score line reading 6-0 to the Hoops, this was a match that all the players could feel very happy about.

Shamrock Rovers full back Pat Flynn was not involved in last Friday’s cup game but he did play against Dundalk in the previous game. Hoops Scene talked to the Ballybrack man to get his thoughts on the turnaround from the Dundalk defeat to hitting Galway for six. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on the end of a result like that in my life,” said Flynn of the Dundalk game. “It was embarrassing, nothing was coming off. Shots that would have gone wide or hit the post for them were just going in and things just weren’t happening for us. We couldn’t clear it. It was just one of those days.”

Photo: George Kelly

This season Dundalk have managed to beat Shamrock Rovers three times in the four league encounters which is remarkable considering Rovers have only lost won other game in the league. “Last season we played up there in similar conditions and we won. There are no excuses. Usually in games two or three players would have an off game but I think nearly everybody had a bad game that day. Dundalk didn’t play great football. They just lumped it on top of us but we couldn’t deal with it as a defence. Our midfield weren’t picking up second ball. It was a case they wanted it more that day and we weren’t passionate enough. I hope it was just a blip.”

The win over Galway last week in the cup seems to suggest that it was just a blip. “It was a perfect way to come back and a great way to answer that result up there in Dundalk,” said Flynn. “The lads knew what we had to do. They went out and played football.” The match was certainly shaped by the sending off of Galway’s goalkeeper Barry Ryan but Flynn was confident of a win irrespective of the red card. “Even with their goalkeeper on, we would have won but it helped us on the way. The lads played great football.”

Central to that fine footballing display was James Chambers. He made it to double figures for the season in the goal scoring charts with his brace that night. His 33rd minute goal was a goal of the season contender after some fine build up play from Rovers. Not to be outdone in the second half, he then scored with a strike from all of 25 yards. Flynn had high praise for a player he has known since their time playing together at Waterford United. “I rather liked the first one,” said Flynn discussing Chambers’ goals. “I liked all the passes for the first goal but then the second was great. James Chambers is a gifted player. I played with him at Waterford so I’ve seen his progression. He is flying. He can play in centre midfield, right midfield and right back. He can do everything. He works hard in training and he deserves what he gets.” Prior to his time at Waterford, Flynn had been playing in the English Conference but returned to Ireland to sign for the Blues. “I was enjoying it at Kidderminster. A friend of mine Chris Deans, who is at Longford now, was playing with Waterford at the time and he talked to the manager. He rang me and asked me to come back. At the time I was homesick. It took me a while to play, I don’t think they like Dubs but I won them over! I then got the move to Rovers which I was delighted with.”

There are not many players that can say they have an Olympic medal but Pat Flynn has one from the Youth Olympics. The defender was part of the Ireland u16 team who won the Youth Olympic tournament played in Murcia in Spain in 2001. “We played group games against Yugoslavia and Spain and then went on to play Spain again in the final. We beat them which was a great result over there. The management team was Brian Kerr and Noel O’Reilly and it was great to work with them.”

Brian Kerr is not the only international manager Flynn has played under. When Flynn was at Wolves, former England manager Glenn Hoddle was at the helm and Flynn worked with him for a short time. “Hoddle was the one who released me from Wolves so Wolves’ loss is Rovers’ gain!” And was he ever sent to any faith healer by the controversial manager? “No, the only person he made me go and see was anger management to sort out my temper and it worked for a while but now I’m back to angrier Pat!” It was Flynn who brought up the topic of his disciplinary rap sheet which is fairly extensive but he acknowledges, with a spot of humour, that he has nobody to blame but himself. So what does he think of his reputation? “I’m not a hard man, it is more being stupid! I got sent off in England and managed to get banned for 12 games. I don’t really do yellow cards, it is more red cards! In a play off with Waterford against Finn Harps, I head butted a player, then I got sent off for elbowing a substitute in Sligo and then there was the one against Bohs.” Ah yes, the red card against Bohs for doing a passable impression of the forfeit Father Ted had to carry out on Bishop Brennan. What were you thinking? “I don’t know. I can be grand at games and then the red mist comes. I hadn’t had problems with your man [Gareth McGlynn] as I hadn’t been marking him the whole day. I’d been marking Killian Brennan on the left wing. He broke out from the corner and fell over the ball. The ball was there for a second. Something just clicked in my mind and I just kicked him. Aido [Aidan Price] says it’s the Hank coming out of me from ‘Me, myself and Irene’!”

The red card left Rovers trying to defend a 1-0 lead against last season’s League Champions and it wasn’t lost on Flynn what his sending off could have meant for the team. “I was going mad. It was a big chance. I thought we wouldn’t get a result. I thought Bohs would push on and get something out of the game. But the boys done well, when Bohs pushed on, we exploited the space and got two goals so I was delighted and also blessed!” Flynn was quick to accept his failure on the day and the consequences. His manager Michael O’Neill straight after the game “went on telly to defend me and afterwards asked ‘was I right to defend you?’. I told him straight up, no you weren’t. I kicked your man straight up the arse or wherever I kicked him. So he had a few words after and said don’t worry about it. The punishment I got, I deserved.”

Flynn juggles his playing commitments with his job with Coca-Cola. With Rovers training in the evenings in Enfield, it gives him the opportunity to work outside of the game and he is thankful for an understanding employer. “My job is half eight to half four but Coke are all right. If I need time off they usually give it to me or for away games I take holidays. I’ve 10 shops a day to reach so when I get that done, I go home. On Fridays, I keep my calls all in the same area. When I first came back from England, I had nothing to do so I started to do a college course. I felt like I needed to be doing something during the day. I think you need something outside of the game. I learned to play the bodhrán. I bought a guitar but I can’t play that. I bought a banjo off Eoghan Doyle as well and I can’t play that either! Having something away from football is good. You would go off your head if you’ve nothing else. After results like last Monday [against Dundalk], I was blessed that I was back at work the next day before training. The pitches in Enfield are good. We have ice baths, pool, gym and the pitch is one of the better pitches we have been training on in the last few years. It is what we needed as we need to push on.”

Photo: George Kelly

The cup win last week may be seen as a bit of distraction from the league but with Rovers now in the semi final of the cup, it is very much a nice distraction. That semi final will be here in Tallaght against Saint Patrick’s Athletic. There is a nice incentive for winning that semi final due to the fact that the final will be the first in the new Aviva Stadium on Lansdowne Road. Flynn would certainly welcome the chance of playing there and hasn’t forgotten off field battles in relation to the stadium here in Tallaght. “Yeah, it would be great to play in Lansdowne. If it was in Croke Park, I don’t think I would have played. No soccer in Croke Park! There are only big teams left in the cup. It would nice for Rovers to get Bohs in the final. I’ve been in the stadium already as I got tickets to watch the World Cup final there on the big screen. It is a lovely stadium so it would be nice play there.”

At this stage of the season, every game is crucial for deciding the destination of this year’s silverware and the players are very much focussed on the Airtricity League title. “It would mean everything to win the league. That is the goal for the season, the big one. The club would love to do it. All the lads are pushing to do it. Everything we are doing is to the max like our training, we aren’t going out and we are resting. We are doing everything we can.” So there is no chance the players would be up till three in the morning, drinking pints, singing songs leading to ‘hoarseness’ or maybe ‘congestion’ before a crucial performance like some people in Ireland? “No, not a chance but maybe when we win the league!”

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