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Twins Joseph and Patrick Finnegan target success with Antrim Minors

Patrick (left) and Joseph Finnegan have enjoyed considerable success on the rugby field, and are hoping to carry that into their Gaelic football careers as they prepare for Antrim's Ulster MFC quarter-final clash with Donegal. Picture by PressEye
Neil Loughran

Ulster Minor Football Championship

TWO Belfast brothers will be 'twin' it to win it on Sunday when they bid to follow their success on the rugby field by helping Antrim secure a semi-final spot in the Ulster Minor Football Championship.

Seventeen-year-olds Joseph and Patrick Finnegan, who are lower sixth pupils at Royal Belfast Academic Institution [RBAI], helped the school to a famous clean sweep of Ulster Schools’ rugby titles earlier this year.

Joseph is a double Schools’ Cup winner, having played on the right wing when RBAI beat Wallace High in the 2015 decider before lining out at full-back as RBAI successfully defended their title with victory over Campbell College at Kingspan Stadium on St Patrick’s Day.

Patrick, meanwhile, was part of this year’s Schools’ Cup winning squad, and also helped RBAI sweep the boards as they lifted the Medallion Shield.

With those trophies already in the bag, the Finnegan twins would love to transfer that success to a different code as they push for starting spots in Hugh McGettigan’s Antrim side.

Patrick impressed at right half-back as the Saffrons comfortably saw off Fermanagh in the preliminary round, and both will be hoping to make their presence felt when Antrim welcome Donegal to Corrigan Park on Sunday night.

Joseph and Patrick lined out alongside each other at midfield when Belfast club St Brigid’s reached the 2014 Paul McGirr U16 Memorial Cup final, and the fact they never played schools’ football certainly hasn’t held them back.

Indeed, it should probably come as no surprise that the Finnegan boys have excelled at Gaelic football, as their father Greg was a mainstay of the Antrim team in the 1980s.

A teak-tough full-back with a safe pair of hands, he first brought them to St Brigid’s as young children, and they haven’t looked back since.

Uncle Shane Finnegan, himself a former county minor, admitted the twins’ route to the inter-county scene wasn’t a typical one.

“It probably is a bit unusual,” he said.

“Even if you look right across that Antrim team, the centre half-back [Paddy McCormick from Moneyglass] was part of the St Pat’s, Maghera team that reached the Hogan Cup final this year.

“A lot of the players would have played schools’ football to MacLarnon Cup level at least, so they’ve done very well.”

Goals from Eoin Beacom, Michael Hagan, Eoin Nagle and Kevin Small – as well as a point from Patrick Finnegan – helped the Saffrons see off the Ernemen at Brewster Park on May 15.

Captain McCormick was also inspirational, but boss McGettigan will know the visiting Tir Chonaill men present an even greater threat to Antrim’s last four ambitions.

However, with the help of his twin threat, it could be a night to remember for the Saffrons – and the Finnegan family.

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