A tribute to the late Kieran Finlay

February 16, 2012
by John Graham

The GAA in Ballybay and the whole of county Monaghan was plunged into deep mourning with the news of the death of the late Kieran "Jap" Finlay on Tuesday afternoon.

Kieran had been in failing health for some time but his passing still came as a terrible shock and with his passing Ballybay and Monaghan has lost one of the all-time greats of the game. He played club football with Ballybay Pearse Brother at all levels winning a senior football championship medal in 1987. He was also the holder off three senior football league medals, an All Ireland Colleges medal, Brennan Cup, junior championship and medals at minor level in league and championship.

One of the most prolific forwards that Monaghan has ever produced Kieran Finlay came to the notice of the county senior selectors in 1973 and was a regular on the county team until the end of the 1985 season, a period that saw him adding a second Ulster senior football championship medal and a National Football League medal. Previous to that he had represented Monaghan at minor and U21 level and he was awarded the Senior Footballer of the Year in Monaghan in 1983.

He was a member of the Monaghan team that won the Ulster senior football championship in 1979 after a lapse of 41 years. He finished top scorer in that final against Donegal, a record he held for over 20 years until it was broken by Armagh's Oisin McConville.

As well as his Ulster championship successes he won a National Football League medal with Monaghan in 1985 and his collection also boasted four Dr McKenna Cup medals. As well as contributing to his club as a player for over two decades Kieran Finlay was also deeply involved in other aspects of club administration as well as serving as Assistant Secretary of the County Board. He served as a team mentor at under rage and senior level and was also one of the prime movers in the major redevelopment scheme that transformed Pearse Park in recent times.

A hugely talented player whose status in the game is unquestioned and he had the unique distinction that is reserved for the very few of being affectionately known far and wide by his nickname "The Jap". Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.

Kierans remains will be removed from his house at Knocknamaddy, Ballybay on Friday morning at 10.15 to St Patricks Church, Ballybay for Funeral Mass at 11am. Burial afterwards in adjoining cemetery


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