Waterford soccer legend Al Finucane wins PFAI Merit Award

Colm Kinsella

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Colm Kinsella

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Waterford soccer legend Al Finucane wins PFAI Merit Award

Al Finucane pictured with the FAI Cup after Limerick's win in the 1971 final

Waterford soccer legend Al Finucane, who made 239 appearances for Waterford United, was awarded a top accolade at the 39th annual PFA Ireland Awards held in The Marker Hotel, Dublin.

Finucane, who made more than 630 appearances in the League of Ireland between December 1960 and April 1988, was awarded the Professional Footballers’ of Ireland (PFAI) prestigious Merit Award.

Former defender Finucane enjoyed an incredible playing career spanning 28 years with Limerick, Waterford United and Newcastlewest, which included 634 league appearances.

Finucane was never sent off and was booked only three times. He captained both Limerick AFC and Waterford Utd to FAI Cup glory.

Finucane is one of only two League of Ireland players to captain the Republic of Ireland at senior level.

The three-time FAI Cup medal winner won 11 senior captains for Ireland, captaining his country against Austria in Linz. Finucane also played in two uncapped internationals against West Germany’s Olympic team and Australia and played in an U-23 game against France.

The central defender’s League of Ireland career began with Limerick in a 2-2 draw against Shamrock Rovers at Miltown on December 4, 1960 as a 17-year-old.

Finucane, from Quins Cottages, in Rosbrien, moved to Waterford United in the 1973-’74 season where he remained until the start of the 1981-’82 season when he returned to Limerick Utd.

Finucane’s final two season’s in the League of Ireland were with Waterford Utd in 1986-’87 and Newcastle West in 1987-’88.  The star defender was renowned for his sense of positioning, composure and distribution skills.

To top it off, he is the oldest player to play in European competition at 43 years and 261 days old, quite some feat and those records will be difficult to surpass in the modern game.

The full list of 2018 PFAI award winners is as follows:

Player of the Year – Michael Duffy (Dundalk)

First Division Player of the Year – Gary O’Neill (UCD AFC)

Young Player of the Year – Jamie McGrath (Dundalk)

Women’s Senior International Player of the Year – Denise O’Sullivan

Premier Division Manager of the Year – Stephen Kenny (Dundalk)

First Division Manager of the Year – Collie O’Neill (UCD AFC)

Premier Division Referee of the Year – Neil Doyle

First Division Referee of the Year – Adriano Reale

Special Achievement Award – Áine O’Gorman

Merit Award – Al Finucane

Premier Division Team of the Year

Shane Supple (Bohemian FC)

Sean Gannon (Dundalk)

Sean McLoughlin (Cork City)

Sean Hoare (Dundalk)

Darragh Leahy (Bohemian FC)

Robbie Benson (Dundalk)

Chris Shields (Dundalk)

Bastien Hery (Waterford FC)

Kieran Sadlier (Cork City)

Patrick Hoban (Dundalk)

Michael Duffy (Dundalk)

First Division Team of the Year

Dean Delany (Shelbourne FC)

Conor Kane (Drogheda Utd)

Daniel O’Reilly (Longford Town)

Liam Scales (UCD AFC)

Derek Prendergast (Shelbourne FC)

Sean Brennan (Drogheda Utd)

Gary O’Neill (UCD AFC)

Daire O’Connor (UCD AFC)

David O’Sullivan (Shelbourne FC)

Georgie Kelly (UCD AFC)

Dylan McGlade (Longford Town)