By Shaun Casey
BALLYBAY convincingly saw off Crossmaglen last weekend, earning their first ever provincial win, and now face another daunting opposition in the form of reigning Ulster and All-Ireland champions Kilcoo.
But Monaghan and Ballybay stalwart Ryan Wylie insists that his side won’t be getting carried away as they know the task ahead of them this weekend.
“Crossmaglen and then Kilcoo, probably the two kingpins of Ulster football so we’re looking forward to it,” said Wylie.
“It’s new territory for us, we’re just taking it one game at a time. Any time you win a game you’re going to get momentum and hopefully we can bring a bit of that momentum into next week because we’re going to need it all.
“We’ve all seen plenty of them (Kilcoo) over the last couple of years, they’ve been on TV every year towards the latter stages of Ulster and the All-Ireland. There are names in their dressing room that are familiar names throughout houses all over Ireland so we’re familiar with all their players.
“We’re just going out to play and the lads set us up for each team and thankfully they had us set up well toagainst Crossmaglen and we got over the line. It’s never easy when you come up against Crossmaglen and nobody was really giving us a chance.
“We’re getting pats on the back now but you’re only six inches from a pat on the back to a kick on the arse so we’re not getting carried away either. We’ll look forward to next week and look forward to getting back into training.”
A big second half performance from Jerome Johnston and Mark Doran’s men saw them nudge past the Rangers.
“I suppose, with our club we had never won an Ulster Championship game before, even though we’ve won the (Monaghan) championship nine times now.
“The last times we were in the Ulster championship was 1987 and 2012 and we’d never won so I suppose the big emphasis was just trying to get over the line and getting that win so thankfully we got it.
“We had a big wind in that second half and an extra man and we just said at half time to keep doing everything that we’d normally been doing regardless of the wind. Thankfully we just got a couple of scores notched on and a well worked goal and that probably gave us a comfortable lead then.”
At the forefront of their superb performance was veteran Paul Finlay, who kicked 0-4 and picked up the Player of the Match award.
“He’s a next-door neighbour of mine and I’ve been lucky to grow up alongside him since I was no height,” added Wylie.
“My first memories in the back garden are kicking with Kieran, his father, and kicking with Paul.
“He’s an inspiration to me and he’s the best player I’ve ever played with and if were looking at that game today, you’d be thinking Vinny Corey will be calling him into the Monaghan team next year!
“He’s 39 years of age now and I’m just glad for him that he’s getting to show the country now what he can actually do because there’s no other player deserves it more than Paul.”