|Date Of Birth:||Nov 25 1954|
|Place Of Birth:||Clones, Co Monaghan|
|Debut:||3-Sep-78, League Cup, (h) Home Farm, 2-4|
From Clones, the red-headed midfielder started with Clones United in the local leagues, graduating with them as they progressed to the Leinster Senior League. After a trial with Blackpool in 1972 that lasted just three weeks, he spent six months with Irish League Glenavon before returning to the Leinster League, where he was spotted by George Richardson and accepted an invitation to train with St Patrick’s Athletic.
Making his Pat’s debut in March 1973, his opening games coincided with Kevin Murray’s last period with the club.
Over four full seasons at Inchicore the only competition success was in the 1975-76 City Cup, confined to clubs who failed to qualify for the League Cup quarter final, when it took a visit to St Mel’s Park to wrest the trophy from Athlone Town in the final.
Earlier there had been the disappointment of losing to Finn Harps in the final of the 1974 FAI Cup when his midfield partner was Sean Byrne.
During his stay at Inchicore he also sampled North American football, spending the summer of 1974 in Canada with Hamilton and then turning out with New York Apollo for two seasons. But his £2,000 move to Oriel Park in the summer of 1978, re-connecting with his ex-St Patrick’s teammates Dermot Keely and Sean Byrne, brought a substantial change to his collection of honours.
After four successful Oriel Park seasons under his belt, Jim McLaughlin was building another team and the St Patrick’s Athletic trio would form the corner stone. The following five years would represent the most successful in the club’s history, with every domestic honour resting at Oriel Park and would include some memorable European competition ties.
The midfield duo of Flanagan and Byrne played central roles in the successes of the period, consistently dominating all local combinations and demonstrating to a succession of European configurations that League of Ireland footballers, emboldened by the attitude of manager Jim McLaughlin, had no cause to be fearful when pitted against the best.
As well as winning a ‘dresserful’ of medals, Leo was honoured 18 times by the League of Ireland selectors for Inter-league activity that brought him to Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand. Appointed penalty-taker for the 1979-80 year, he converted 11 in the season, and that included a hat-trick of penalties on January 27th 1980 when Shelbourne were hammered 9-0 at Oriel Park.
He left Dundalk at the end of the 1982-83 year, the same time as Jim McLaughlin, and after a dispute about his valuation that involved a visit to the Appeals tribunal, he eventually ended up with Crusaders, managed by ex-Waterford Tommy Jackson, staying with them for two seasons.
The 1985-86 year saw him turn out with a number of clubs, including Derry City, newly promoted to the League of Ireland, newly demoted First Division Drogheda United (he was a personal friend of manager Tony O’Reilly) and closed the year with Irish League Ards, securing a third place League finish thanks to a closing 8-match unbeaten run.
He had one final spell as player-manager with Swords Celtic before calling it a day after been diagnosed as suffering from arthritis in both hips .
His summer visits to the United States in the 1970s left him with an urge to return there some day and he went on a visit in 1991, intending to stay for a few months, but it was 1997 before he came back to Ireland.
During his initial period in the USA he was head coach with South Carolina Shamrocks, based in Greenville and in his spare time was a Varsity and Youth Coach in Atlanta. His successes led to his appointment as Head Coach and General Manager of the Jacksonville Cyclones in the MSL in 1999, leading the team to within two points of the play-offs and also developing a 5-team youth section.
When the Cyclones franchise transferred to California in 2000, Leo moved to Clay County Soccer Club, also based in Florida, to the position of Executive Director of an organisation that has youth programmes covering 1200+ in the age range 5-19.
Managing the day-to-day operations covers a wide range of issues including maintenance and development of a 27-acre complex, running a Summer Academy, operating recreational and soccer programmes, introducing and developing a youth academy programme and developing revenue-raising programmes, soccer and non-soccer, on the complex.
Under Leo’s management there has been considerable development of the organisation, whose successes include three state cups, each year 10-15 players earn college soccer scholarships and 5-6 players progress to regional championship level.
A firm believer in the proposition that good players never hang up the boots, and now revitalised with two new hips he admits to waiting on a call-up from Stephen Kenny.
What They Said About Him
“It is fashionable nowadays to talk about ‘work-rate’. I fancy that many of the people who use it have never seen him for, if they had, they would have to coin a new and more potent description to include him within its ambit” was the apt description of Leo Flanagan by Sean Kilfeather (Irish Times) in late 1975, when he was half-way through his 5-season career with St Patrick’s Athletic.
He continued “There seems to be something in the physical and mental make-up of red-haired people which invests their attitude to life with a determination and honesty of purpose which others often lack. When this is allied to skill the mixture is sometimes explosive but never boring”.
8 Wins: 2 League 1978-79, 1981-82; 2 FAI Cup 1978-79, 1980-81; League Cup 1980-81; 3 Presidents Cup 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82.
4 Runners Up: 2 League 1979-80, 1980-81; League Cup 1982-83; Leinster Cup 1982-83.
18 League of Ireland Caps.
SWAI Player of the Month October 1982
|League of Ireland Career....League Games|
|St Patrick's Ath||1972-74||na||4|
|St Patrick's Ath||1974-78||95(3)||19|
|European Competition Player Stats|
|Dundalk||1979-80||EUC||6 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1980-81||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1981-82||CWC||4 (0) 1|
|Dundalk||1982-83||EUC||2 (0) 1|
|Total||14 (0) 2|
|EUC=European Cup; UFC=UEFA Cup; CWC=Cup Winners Cup|