Monaghan v Tyrone: Finlay out to follow his dad
Twenty-two years ago Kieran Finlay played a starring role in Monaghan’s last Anglo Celt success.
Tomorrow afternoon, Finlay will again make his way from his home in Ballybay to St Tiernach’s Park, Clones as his son Paul and his Monaghan colleagues bid to bridge a 22-year gap.
Paul is far too young to remember his father’s scoring exploits in that unforgettable afternoon for Monaghan football.
But he can recall his dad togging out for Ballybay in probably his last season in club football.
“My dad has always been very supportive, encouraging me and giving me the chance to be the best I can be and I can never thank him enough,” he said.
As for the younger Finlay he had the kind of championship debuts that players can only dream of.
Armagh arrived in Clones in 2003 as All Ireland champions raging hot favourites to progress, but Finlay and his colleagues lay in wait and ambushed them.
Finlay was only 19 but he rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion.
He finished up with a personal haul of eight points and on his own admission it was an afternoon when he could do no wrong.
“It’s all a wee bit vague now but I was able to kick points from all over the place,” he said.
“Sadly we weren’t able to build on that success, for next time out we travelled to Casement Park and lost to Down.”
Time moves on and Monaghan are back in an Ulster decider for the second time in three years, Tyrone denying them in 2007.
“Tyrone have shown they have the ability to close out games and that comes from having won three All Irelands,” said Finlay.
“In sport you always aspire to be the best and in Tyrone we’re coming up against one of the very best.
“But I believe we’re better prepared to take them on than we were three years ago.
“There’s a great depth of experience running through the spine of the side and we now have more genuine options than three season ago and hopefully that will make a difference.”