Spotlight: John O’Flynn
League of Ireland fans will be familiar with current Exeter City striker John O’Flynn. From 2002 to 2008, O’Flynn played for Cork City in what was then the eircom League. He’s moved on to bigger pastures since, and the 28 year old is currently Exeter’s top scorer after signing from Barnet in the summer.
O’Flynn started his football career at Peterborough United, but was unable to break through into the senior setup. Because of this, he returned home to Cork (O’Flynn is originally from Cobh) to play for local side Cork City in 2002. On his debut, he scored twice in a 3-0 victory against 2001 champions Shelbourne in the first game of the 2002-03 eircom league season. He quickly became a Cork City favourite, and helped the side to the 2005 League Title, scoring 11 league goals (as well as 4 more in the cup), ending the season as the club’s top scorer, and their Player of the Year.
Cork’s title winning side of 2005 had a very potent strikeforce, with O’Flynn, Kevin Doyle, and Roy O’Donovan all battling to get their name in the starting lineup. O’Flynn and Doyle formed a potent partnership, and scored 25 goals between them in 2004, and 23 in 2005, before Doyle was snapped up by Reading. Without Doyle, O’Flynn only scored 9 goals in 2006, but more success came in 2007, when a strikeforce of Denis Behan and O’Flynn guided Cork City to the FAI Cup title. After missing out on Europe in the 2008 League of Ireland season, O’Flynn returned to England having played 138 games and scoring 68 goals for the Leesiders.
While at Cork City, O’Flynn was a regular at under-21 level for Ireland under Don Givens, playing in the Euro 2004 Qualifiers, and scoring three times in six games.
In September 2008, O’Flynn signed for League Two side Barnet. He greatly impressed at Barnet during his two seasons there, scoring 29 goals in 70 league games, as well as 4 goals in just 5 FA Cup matches. Then Barnet manager (and current boss of the England C national team) Paul Fairclough was delighted with his goal return, comparing him to Barnet favourite Giuliano Grazioli (who scored 62 goals in 131 league games for the Bees.
This gained O’Flynn attention from bigger clubs, and Shrewsbury Town made a £100,000 bid for the goal poacher in February this year. O’Flynn turned down the move, and after his contract expired in the summer, went on trial with Bristol City, before eventually signing for League One’s Exeter City.
After just six league games this season, the Corkman has already scored three goals, including two against Hartlepool which got him in the Irish players of the week that week, and is part of a formidable partnership with Daniel Nardiello. The two are greatly supported by industrious midfielder Ryan Harley, who has four goals from nine games. O’Flynn picked up an injury in City’s 2-2 draw with Peterborough two weeks ago, but is expected to be fit enough to return to the side for this weekend’s League One game against Rochdale. City manager Paul Tisdale had hoped O’Flynn would play against Bournemouth on Tuesday, but he hadn’t recovered fully, and was in the stands as his side lost 3-0.