One of Ulster’s top players is aiming to land a county championship medal this week — exactly 25 years after his late father secured the same honour.
Finlay seeking to emulate father with final flourishBY JOHN CAMPBELL
GAELIC GAMESONE of Ulster’s top players is aiming to land a county championship medal this week — exactly 25 years after his late father secured the same honour.
Paul Finlay (pictured) has been the mainstay of the Monaghan attack for a decade, his creative flair, elegant distribution and superb finishing, particularly from long-range frees, highlighting his immense contribution to the Farney cause.
On Sunday, he will skipper Ballybay in the Monaghan county final against Clontibret at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones hoping to equal the achievement of his late father Kieran by sharing in what would be a rare title triumph for the club.
Known to all and sundry as ‘Jap’, it was in February of this year that Kieran passed away, but not before he had played a major role in helping to bring about the impressive new facilities at the Ballybay club’s Pearse Park headquarters.
Both on and off the field, his endeavours on behalf of Ballybay and indeed the Monaghan and Ulster sides served to thrust him on to a special pedestal within his county’s GAA annals.
He represented the Farney county and Ulster from the early ’70s until the mid-80s, the Ulster final victory over Donegal in 1979 the pinnacle of his career when he scored 1-9 in a magnificent man of the match performance.
When the all-conquering 1987 Ballybay team was honoured at a special 25th anniversary function last Saturday night, his wife Ann joined the players to receive his memento of what was a significant occasion in the club’s history.
Now Paul is keen to follow in his father’s footsteps, particularly in view of the memories that have been rekindled over the past week in particular.
Monaghan spokesman John Kerin encapsulates the admiration for the Finlay family when he says: “Jap was a legend and his death was a terrible blow to his family, club and county. He gave selflessly of his time and skills and it was a great source of pride to him that the Ballybay club headquarters became a complex to rival anything anywhere.”
Jap’s leadership skills have been inherited by Paul who is at the helm of a Ballybay side which has strung together some fine performances in reaching Sunday’s decider, not the least of these being their fine semi-final win over reigning champions Latton.
He is the most experienced member of a side that also includes Monaghan county players in Chris McGuinness and Drew Wylie, but in Clontibret they will be confronting an outfit almost groaning under a weight of experience.
On Sunday, though, they will be meeting a team that will undoubtedly take their inspiration from a legend — and their leadership from someone who could yet also achieve that august status.