INSTITUTE boss, Paul Kee has heaped praise on hat-trick hero Stephen O’Flynn after the Co. Cork man’s goals ensured that reigning Intermediate Cup champions progressed to the fifth round at the expense of Crumlin Star on Saturday afternoon.
O’Flynn completed his first goalscoring treble for the club with six minutes remaining in this tightly contested encounter at The Cliff, to set up a tasty derby clash with Newbuildings at the Riverside Stadium this weekend.
Since arriving in Drumahoe during the January Transfer Window, O’Flynn has made a significant impact and has taken his goal tally to six goals in three matches with this latest flurry of strikes.
It’s a promising return and ‘Stute boss, Kee, is delighted with his bustling hitman’s contribution to the cause thus far.
“That’s why we brought him in,” declared Kee. “The fact that he’s a proven player at a higher level than we’re at and the fact that he’s got those qualities which he displayed on Saturday.
“If you present him with a chance then, nine times out of ten, he’s going to score and that’s what he did on Saturday.
“He’s got a good left foot; he’s strong and has a big frame,” added a delighted Kee. “Most importantly he’s got experience and confidence and that’s what he’s brought into the team.
“He’s definitely helping the younger boys in the team and he’s not afraid to tell people what he thinks.”
And although O’Flynn was delighted to help his new club progress in the competition, he was keen to acknowledge his team-mates who have helped him make the transition from League of Ireland to Irish Championship a seamless one.
“It’s been brilliant so far,” said the former Derry City hitman. “I feel like I’m getting there with the more games I get under my belt.
“But to be honest I’m the type of player that needs service. I wouldn’t be the quickest and as for the players I have around me, I can’t speak highly enough about them.
“They are creating chances for me. The likes of Darren McFadden, Darren McCauley and Michael McCrudden are all great attacking players. And, obviously, credit has to go to the manager as well.
I’m grateful for the chances they are creating for me.”
By his own admission, O’Flynn didn’t know an awful lot about the club’s Amateur League opposition before Saturday’s kick-off.
And despite getting off to a dream start when O’Flynn found the back of the net with a clinical finish on seven minutes, the visitors needed to dig deep into their reserves to eke out a result.
Indeed, ‘Stute began strongly and after some good interplay from McCrudden, McFadden and O’Flynn, the latter slotted a right foot shot home to give ‘Stute the lead.
That lead lasted all of seven minutes as the home side were back on level terms when a strong run and shot from Crumlin’s centre forward, Patrick O’Neill levelled matters.
In the 49th minute Stephen Brown’s cross was met at the near post and turned in by O’Neill and it was 2-1 to Crumlin.
Institute bounced back through O’Flynn’s second strike in the 56th minute and with the game looking destined for extra-time the in-form striker sealed his hat-trick and, ultimately, Stute’s passage to a last 16 with just six minutes remaining.
“We went down there and didn’t know how good or how bad Crumlin Star were,” admitted O’Flynn.
“We went one up and they came back with two goals so we had to dig deep to get the result in the end.
“It was always going to be a tough game because they would see it as their cup final and a chance to knock a team like us out of the competition.”
Local Bragging Rights
And having booked their place in the fifth round against Newbuildings - the tie to be played this Saturday - O’Flynn is looking forward to his first taste of a derby clash with the ‘Villagers’ where local bragging rights will come into play.
“It was good to get into the next round and we can look forward to a game against Newbuildings,” he added. “No matter what cup competition you’re in you want to win it.
“We had to make sure we won the game and I was delighted to get out of there with a result.
“There’s players on both teams who know each other so bragging rights will come into it as well. We have to make sure we prepare ourselves well and, hopefully, our class will shine through again.”