AFTER 20 years of playing professional football, John O'Flynn is back playing with a local side and is enjoying sport once again.
After an illustrious career with Cork City, most notably, and clubs such as Finn Harps, Limerick, and English sides Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Barnet and Exeter, the striker recently signed for Cobh Wanderers where his main aim is to help the younger talent coming through.
The 38-year-old League of Ireland and FAI Cup winner last played with Finn Harps in 2018 helping them to promotion. Since, he dedicated his time to setting up a new business, Summa Sportswear and also with the arrival of his daughter.
“I always said I would play for as long as I could so after playing League of Ireland but I knew the next best move for me would be in the MSL. It’s a fantastic league with some fantastic players but for the past two years I started a business and I had a baby girl so I didn’t want to go and not give it 100%.
"Now I feel I can commit a little bit more and I am really looking forward to the season."
The aim for the season is to be up there competing for trophies.
"They have had a great pre-season and they have really bought into going the extra mile and trying to progress during lockdown. Lads were really great for motivating each other and doing the hard graft that nobody was seeing and I think that has already paid off in the early games of the season."
Cobh were the only team in the MSL that he wanted to sign for.
"I want to help the young players and the young talent that is coming up. I obviously don’t want a coaching role. If I’m registered as a player, then I want to play, so it’s just about giving a few tips and tricks in training.
"Hopefully the lads take on board and learn because I want them to progress as there is massive potential at the club. So for me it’s about being able to pass on something I have learned through playing for the past 20 years."
He hasn't lined out locally in the Cork amateur leagues since the 1990s with Springfield Ramblers, in his native Cobh.
"In my last year of schoolboys, I played with Cork club Leeds before I headed to England. We had a fantastic team at the time so it was a great transition for me from Leeds to England.
"No matter where I was, I always kept a track on how Cobh teams were doing. There is huge progression in Cobh with new astro pitches and the idea of all Cobh teams coming together working in unison is great to see and great for the town.
“When I finished with Finn Harps, I went out on a high playing against my former club Limerick in the play-off final second leg in Limerick. Bitter sweet it was great that Finn Harps got promoted but also sad to see Limerick relegated."
His mindset after that was wait to see if the phone rang with an offer. He was starting up a business so with the time constraints he would have to be with the right club.
"I put my name for Cobh Ramblers but whatever happened at the time I didn’t end up signing but now I’m delighted to be with Wanderers. I have a good relationship with the chairman Frank McCaul.
"There are some great people involved with the club. My ex-team mate Darren Murphy is manager and he has brought something youthful and dynamic. I really enjoy his sessions as he is going about playing football the right way. His professional approach to every detail from pre-match to post-match to video analysis.
"All the tools are there for every player to progress in a fantastic environment and long may it continue."
O'Flynn was very busy with getting the business up and running for the last two years.
"We are currently setting up an American side of the business when things calm down and start opening up again over there. Here the response has been great to buying our gear and I have really enjoyed working with local clubs.
“There are a lot of hours gone into the business over the past two years. Thankfully that hard work is starting to pay off a bit. A start up business and the birth of my baby girl kind of came together so it’s been a lot of hard work.
"I’m lucky that my wife gives me that time to dedicate so much time to the business. For me it’s all about getting the at balance between work and family life."
From watching Cobh Wanderers and then coming on board himself, it was very refreshing for O'Flynn to see the talent at the club.
"We have the likes of Ciaran Griffin, Nathan O’Connell and Cal Sheehy (who has an unfortunate injury at the moment), but their talent can bring them wherever they want to go really, it’s about buying into been a professional footballer. Just because they are currently playing in the MSL, doesn’t mean they can’t transition to the highest level.
"The gap between professional players in England and the lads that I see playing here, isn’t very big at all. That’s how great the standard of MSL is."