Sunday 26 February 2017

Where are they now?: Barry Coffey

Former Cork footballer

Playing football for Cork in 1990, the year the Rebels won both the hurling and football All-Irelands, was a defining time in the life of Barry Coffey.

"Cork was buzzing," he says, "it was a merry-go-round from All-Irelands to holidays and all that goes with it; we just hit a purple patch in terms of the crack we had and the success we had. It was a fantastic period to be involved."

Beating Meath in the All-Ireland final in 1990 was the icing on the cake for Coffey's career. The two counties had dominated football since the decline of Kerry's great team and had met for the third time in four All-Irelands.

"My greatest football memory without a doubt was beating Meath in 1990 final; it was something we had to achieve. They had beaten us two years prior to that so there was a lot of rivalry between the camps.

"I was in the backs one year and the forwards the next, I never really developed any major rivalry because I wasn't consistently coming up against any certain player but it was evident across the board. The hurlers had already won the All-Ireland so it made us want it all the more."

The Rebels won by two points and Coffey and his teammates made history. Despite a lot being made of the relationship between hurlers and footballers in Cork, Coffey insists that they always got on well.

Today Cork play Down in the All-Ireland final, 20 years since they last won the Sam Maguire and, according to Coffey, a lot has changed since his playing days.

"I think the game was a lot tougher in our era, one would argue that a lot of that was contributed by the teams we played against like Meath. Certainly it was more physical and it was probably a lot faster than the current game.

"I'm hoping Cork win today but it's hard to call. In my mind it's Cork's All-Ireland to lose; they should come to the boil, but you just don't know. So far this year they haven't played with any level of consistency."

Although Coffey's club in his playing days was Bishopstown he has now switched his allegiance to éire óg. His five kids play both hurling and football for the Cork club. He is self-employed, running a business consultancy firm advising on different aspects of management.

Sunday Independent

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