"I would have felt that I always had the skills" - Finnerty on the biggest step-up from underage to senior
Anthony Finnerty may have played in two All-Ireland finals for Mayo, and there may have been a time when he was Mayo through and through.
But things can change. He's firmly in the Galway camp now.
He won't go as far as wearing a Galway jersey this Sunday, at the Allianz League Division One final against Mayo, but as a more subtle signing of his shifting loyalties, he just might wear his maroon shirt.
“He always shouts for Galway when I’m playing," says Anthony's son, "He’ll have the maroon shirt on hopefully."
It may be slightly different for his father but there has never been as much as an iota of doubt about Robert Finnerty's allegiance.
Having grown up in Salthill, he played for Galway underage teams the whole way up, before making his debut for the seniors in the 2019 season.
Not too dissimilar to his father, he's always been seen as a forward of real talent, but it was in 2022 when he really made a name for himself.
The sharpshooter played a key role in Galway's march to last year's final against Kerry and while they were beaten, lots of progress was made both by himself and by Galway.
“I think I first came into the panel around 2019 so I would have probably have been 20 that year," says Optimum Nutrition ambassador Finnerty.
Robert Finnerty’s penalty was the stuff of legend.
(Clip via RTE) pic.twitter.com/8zpA7Tv1mn
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 27, 2022
“I probably wasn’t strong enough physically at the time so a lot of gym work had to be done.
“I would have felt that I always had the skills to compete at the top level so it was probably just about getting a good strength and conditioning programme and trying to get through that."
There's never been doubt about the skills.
What made Finnerty stand out in 2022 was that mark of class, an uncanny ability to kick points on the regular, making it look like the easiest thing in the world.
So it wasn't the skill or even the speed-of-execution side that he found difficult to reach at first, it was the strength and conditioning side, and of course, the tactical side.
That really opened his mind.
“Tactically, there’s a lot that goes into senior inter-county football whereas there’s not as much in your minor, your u-21, or your club football.
“[It’s about] trying to soak up as much knowledge as you can off coaches and off other lads. That would have helped me a lot.”
“You wouldn’t really understand before you go in the amount of detail that goes into it.
“The amount of small things, you could be literally be one metre off being in the right position for the team, whether it’s on a kick-out or a defensive structure.
“A lot of it I wouldn’t have focussed on growing up because as an inside forward I almost had a tag on myself that I wasn’t leaving the 45 too often, whereas that has to change for senior football."
“You get your chance to stay up at times but you also have to do what’s best for the team, you have to do whatever you role is as part of the defensive system as well.”
Finnerty missed much of this League campaign due to an ankle injury and some subsequent niggles but he's ready to rock for this weekend.
“I’m delighted to be back on the pitch now, it’s where you want to be. You don’t want to be off in the gym looking out the window at lads training, you want to be out there.
“I had company with a load of the lads unfortunately.
“You’re sitting on a bike in the gym and you’re going nowhere.
"Out on the pitch you’re doing fitness and you’re not even thinking about it. You’re playing match situations and you’re enjoying it whereas up in the gym, I wouldn’t be a fan of it.”
"We had a lot of injuries throughout the league but I suppose that probably gave us the chance to build a bit more depth in the squad and other lads to get chances.
“Everyone stepped up so it’s good.”
“The season isn’t long going by.
“From when I got my first injury in the first Mayo game it’s absolutely flown. You’re almost looking at championship now.
A student in St Pat's Drumcondra in Dublin, Finnerty is currently doing his primary school teaching practice back home in Galway. And he's delighted to be home.
It leaves him right in the thick of it, not too far from training, right in the heart of Connacht. Friends close, enemies closer, the Mayo cousins aren't too far away.
And dad will be by his side too.
“He has managed the Salthill senior team before so I had him for two years and he would have managed me all the way up from underage, minor, u-21 through to senior. The whole way.”
"Of course there is," the 25-year-old replies definitively when asked if they'd have many father-son arguments on the pitch.
“To be fair, he’s my worst critic but it works for me.
"He’d be fairly fast at brining me back down to earth after a good game and if I’d a bad game he’d definitely let me know about it.”