League of Ireland Legends
In the second part of the feature with Pat Finnerty, we discuss the various tangents of his career and personal life.
‘Mr. Cabinteely’ discusses his early football career, family, work-life, League of Ireland, athletics, cricket, and education.
He focuses on learning and how he became a goalkeeper coach with methods ahead of his time.
Paul Dowling – First, tell us a bit about yourself and your football background.
Pat Finnerty – I was born in September 1946 in Blackrock, the eldest of 10 children my parents James and Nancy. My first venture into football was with my Dad who founded and managed Rock Unknowns and would have played our home games in Blackrock Park. We were frequent visitors to the People’s Park pitch on the lower Dargle road in Bray. When I was about 13, I joined St. Josephs Boys in Sallynoggin as a goalkeeper. My manager was the great Tommy Kinsella (who played for Arsenal). Tommy went on to have a fine career in the borough. He later became a referee.
PD – As the eldest child, you had a work ethos from an early age
PF – I spent time helping my dad with work. He was a self-employed builder. If he had a job, we would go straight from school to him and give a couple of hours. You would paint or decorate.
PD – You left school at 15. What path did you follow?
PF – After college in Kevin’s Street, I graduated as a Television Engineer, and went to work in Cork and then Limerick at 17. I returned home to Blackrock in the late 60s. I married Pauline in 1970 and we went to live in Drogheda because we could not afford a house in Dublin! There I started a football team and entered it in the May Time Festival. We played our home games in United Park.
PD – But you eventually made your way back to Dublin.
PF – We moved back to Dublin in 1973 and bought our present home in 1974. I went to assist my brother Tony who was managing a team in St. Josephs Boys. Some of the players we passed through our hands at that time were Derek McDonald (Mint Plus), Des Roche, Kevin Reynolds – the latter duo who went on to play for Bray Wanderers. All my four brothers Peter, Jimmy, Tony, and Thomas (TF) played for St Josephs at one time or another. My brother Jim went on to play League of Ireland for Home Farm, under the recently deceased, and the finest gentleman, Dave Bacuzzi. Jim is the guy who rings the bell at the Irish International matches. I coached in St Josephs with my brothers Peter and Jimmy as well. Among the players we had that time was the late Andy Rice RIP.
PD – You have always been associated with goalkeeping. How did that come about?
PF – I had a good friend, the late, great Austin Mullen in St. Josephs who was pushing out the boat in specific goalkeeper training. That was something I had a huge interest in. I asked him to demo for some of our Cabinteely managers to show the benefits. So, I became the goalkeeper coach for Cabinteely. I was then approached by Wayside Celtic, who had a Leinster Senior League team, and they asked me to help coach their keepers. I stayed involved with Wayside for several years. So, now I had Cabinteely, and Wayside as part of my weekly goalkeeper coaching plus the Cubs on a Saturday morning. I was also involved in producing training manuals, coaching sessions, and looking after the managers with monthly meetings at Cabinteely where I invited Brian Kerr and the late Noel O’Reilly RIP to give talks to the managers.
PD – Education seems to be a key factor?
PF – I realised that I needed to improve on my coaching badges so, I started with what was Level 1 under Jimmy McDermott in the FAI. Later, I passed my B Licence for outfield and my B licence for goalkeeping under the new FAI coaching pathway set-up. I completed my SAQ (Strength and Conditioning) course in movement at this time as well.
PD – You also went back to College in recent years?
PF – I went back to do Applied Sports Psychology in IADT. I received my certificate. I wanted to complete a diploma course in Waterford IT but my wife got the bad news about her condition.
PD – You had a long spell in the League of Ireland
PF – I joined Bray Wanderers as a goalkeeper coach. When I went there first, it was to coach the great John Walsh and Matt Gregg. Others I coached were Chris O’Connor, who was part of the Australian squad in the 2008 Olympics. I was with Bray for about 12 years. Beside the goalkeeper coaching, I became the Video Analysis at Bray, and continued that interest after I left Bray. I did analysis for Longford Town, UCD Waves and later with Cabinteely.
PD – From Bray, you joined DLR Waves
PF – They were League of Ireland Ladies football club. Again, I was goalkeeper coach. They later changed their name to UCD Waves. We made it to the 2014 FAI Cup final against Raheny in the Aviva Stadium. We had a great family day. Unfortunately, we lost the game in extra time.
PD – You have also had international experience with the Irish Schools team
PF – I had a stint coaching with the International School side for several years. While I was with them, we never lost any tournament. Among the goalkeepers we had was Darren Quigley, who had distinguished League of Ireland career.
PD – Retirement does not seem to have slowed you down
PF – As I mentioned, I am retired and the first thing I did was to join the FAS/FAI course in Ringsend as a goalkeeper coach under Martin Russell the late Bobby Smith. We worked with some of the best young keepers in Ireland.
PD – Despite your retirement, you have kept busy in other sporting areas. Tell us about them
PF – When I retired, I decided to set up an Athletic club in 2010 in Kilbogget Park, called Cabinteely Athletic Club. It now boasts a steady membership of 250 boys a girls age from 10-16. The next year, I saw the opportunity to start up a cricket club with the help of Krishna Mohan whose son was playing in the Cubs. The DLR were great help to me in setting up the Cricket Crease. However, in the second year, the crease was burned out. So, eventually we joined with Dundrum CC and again DLR came to our rescue. We now play in Shanganagh Park in Shankill. While it was a huge disappointment to all of us to have to move from Kilbogget, the cricket still goes on.
PD – You were honoured a few years back an inaugural Dún Laoghaire Sports Partnership Volunteer Recognition Award. How did that make you feel?
PF – Honoured. It is about doing things when you see something that needs to be done. It is about getting people involved.
We thank Pat Finnerty for his time at Cabinteely FC. He has left an indelible mark on the club. But we know we can still rely on his experience when needed.