It is now a situation where we are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting our Monthly Merit Award winner with a list of very eligible people in the running each time. April 2003 was no exception with National Football and Hurling League games and the Ulster Under-21 Football Championship all in the frame.

It's from the latter that we have chosen our winner this time. PAUL FINLAY is the player chosen ahead of Peter Canavan and Brian McFall and the fact that the Monaghan youth wasn't even in the team during the under-21 final speaks volumes for his claim to the honours.

Paul (20), a Business Studies second year student at Sligo IT and a son of the famous 'Jap', had an outstanding uner-21 championship, as well as winning a Dr McKenna Cup medal during March.

In the first round of the knockout series Paul hit six points against Donegal, he then got two against Fermanagh, four in the win over Down and a superb eight points in the final against winners Tyrone. His accurate free-taking was a feature of his play.

So far, the Ballybay man has collected quite a few honours from the game. He was a member of the Monaghan Vocational Schools' team that won the All-Ireland title and played a prominent role in Sligo IT's Sigerson Cup success last year. He has also won MFC and IFC medals with Ballybay Pearse's.

He is now, of course, seeking bigger things this year as Monaghan aim to dethrone Ulster and All-Ireland champions Armagh next Sunday. Paul is likely to be in his regular No.10 jersey.

"This is only my first year in the senior team and I'm really looking forward to this game with Armagh. I believe firmly that we can win - you have got to be positive," he says. "It is absolutely brilliant to win this award and it gives me a great boost going into the game."

Paul shaded Tyrone captain Peter Canavan, who was superb in the win over Cork and Fermanagh, and Antrim hurler and attacking genius Brian McFall, who hit home 2-17 in games against Kerry (getting the winning point in the Kingdom), Meath and Carlow.

The winner receives sports vouchers from Tennents Ireland and Pro*Star Sport plus an engraved Belleek China vase. The presentation was made by Tennents PR Manager Brian Houston at a function in the Ulster Brewery on Wednesday, May 7, 2003.

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