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Finlay's patience now paying off

By John Campbell

Paul Finlay has had to exercise patience in his bid to accumulate GAA honours.

But in more recent times his fortunes have changed to such an extent that the Monaghan veteran has re-invented himself within the side.

A few years ago Finlay's playing career was under threat when he was diagnosed with a heart condition but he returned to the Farney fold where his experience and finishing skills have been vital.

His commitment and endeavour were rewarded last autumn when he led Ballybay Pearses to their first Monaghan Championship title in 25 years.

It was a hugely emotional occasion for the player given that his father Kieran 'Jap' Finlay, who died in February last year, had been a member of the last Ballybay team to collect the crown back in 1987.

Down champions Kilcoo were to prove too strong for Ballybay in the Ulster Club series quarter-final but Finlay played a major part in helping to bring Monaghan up into Division Two.

Finlay will once more have a key role tomorrow when Malachy O'Rourke's side face Meath in the Division Three final at Croke Park (7.00pm).

"When we beat Meath earlier in the league they were missing several players," said Finlay.

"They have improved greatly since," he added.

Monaghan boss O'Rourke concurs with this sentiment.

"They will want to show that they can maintain their momentum," he said.

"They are a lot better organised and have key players back."

With the Ulster Championship assignment against Antrim in June, Monaghan can maximise their opportunity to flourish in the national spotlight tomorrow.

Long-serving forward Tommy Freeman will be absent tomorrow because of a broken jaw while there is still a doubt over seasoned defender Dessie Mone who has an Achilles problem.

But Dick Clerkin, Owen Lennon, Stephen Gollogly, Darren Hughes, Kieran Hughes and Conor McManus join Finlay in a team that looks capable of ensuring Monaghan will bring home the silverware.

Belfast Telegraph


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