Friday 23 March 2018

Finlay caught by surprise as Monaghan star joins 500 club

Paul Finlay, who scored his 500th point for Monaghan earlier this week
Paul Finlay, who scored his 500th point for Monaghan earlier this week
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

IF it had happened in American sport, where they love their stats, bells and whistles would have gone off to mark Paul Finlay's 500th point for Monaghan this week.

It occurred in a low-key Dr McKenna Cup game against Fermanagh and he's not even sure which of his 0-4 on the night actually marked his half-century of scores, but jokes that he hopes it was his best one.

"I scored two frees and two points, but if it was the last one, from play, that was pretty decent," he said.

"I genuinely wasn't aware of it at all, though -- or of the fact that it was my 141st game either. I don't know who comes up with these stats, but I'm not going to question them."

Monaghan hit pay-dirt last summer with that first Ulster SFC title in 25 years and a provincial minor/ senior double, and clubs Truagh and Emyvale have since gone on to win the Ulster intermediate and junior titles.

But the euphoria of Clones last summer often seemed distant and the Ballybay sharpshooter, more than most, helped them stay on the radar while their latest seam of talent was being mined.

Finlay made his senior debut 11 years ago under Colm Coyle and has never thought about quitting, not even when he got a serious heart scare in 2007, of which he still makes little.

"It just popped up in a routine medical I got done for the job I'm doing now (with Gypsum)," he said.

"They did an ECG and found I had an irregular heartbeat, but it just stopped me from one match and it hasn't stopped me or affected me since, I just have to have regular check-ups."

It never stopped him metronomically clocking up the scores for Monaghan and last summer's Ulster title finally helped exorcise some demons.

"Last year was the pinnacle, but losing those two Ulster finals (in 2007 and 2010, both at the hands of Tyrone) gave us some terrible low moments," he said.

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