It certainly wasn’t a decision he took lightly, but in the end, as September draws to a close and the prospect of a senior county final dawns, perhaps withdrawing from the Louth panel for the year was a smart play from Ray Finnegan.
It was done predominantly due to injury. With a banjaxed hip needing extra care and attention, the rigours of a tough inter-county season just wasn’t a possibility.
Finnegan would probably have played through the pain just to represent his county, but the realisation that he wouldn’t have been giving it his all was playing on his mind. Better to seek solace elsewhere and repair and focus on club football instead. Louth’s loss has certainly been St Patrick’s gain this year.
The Pat’s centre back is sure that he made the right decision looking back.
“You’re not under as much pressure”, admits Finnegan. “If it happens that the hip gets a bit sore and you have to take a training session off, in fairness to Fergal he’ll let you, there’s no bother there and it’s basically just about looking after yourself.”
Just days before the interview, Paddy Keenan announced his retirement from inter-county football. Keenan cited injury as a major reason for his decision. Finnegan has nothing but praise for his teammate and can naturally empathise with his decision.
“He’s been there for 12 years and he’s an unreal player and definitely at some stage you have to look after yourself. When it comes to it you’re trying to struggle on and it’s not fair on the time if you’re not 100 per cent every time. So at some stage you have to look at it and say ‘yeah it’s time for me to look after myself’.”
He may not have had inter-county football to worry about this year, but that doesn’t mean the hard work hasn’t been put in for St Patrick’s. After the semi final there were still kinks to iron out - nothing is signed, sealed or delivered yet.
“We’ve looked at some DVDs so we probably know the things to work on. There’s always things to work on. We got a good start against the Blues and then we just went out of it. So we’ll be hoping maybe improve on that ourselves and keep our own game going, instead of worrying about anybody else. There’s always key men in other teams, but you mainly have to worry about yourself and try and play well,” adds Finnegan.
There’s a certain familiarity between St Patrick’s and Dreadnots now. They’ve also got a good manager according to Finnegan.
“They have the final under their belts from two years ago. It’s pretty much the same set up as two years ago - we played them in the group stages and both teams got through to the final so we know each other well as well.
“They’re a good team. Under Colin Kelly they’ve a good management team as well. They’ve a couple of county players there as well. They’re well fit to be there and they’re in the final, which says it all.”