Wednesday 21 March 2018

Where are they now? - Des Barry, Longford footballer

Plus Have Your Say and Quote and Number of the week

Dessie Barry Longford, Wexford V Longford, Leinster Football Championship Preliminary Rd Replay, Pearse Park
Dessie Barry Longford, Wexford V Longford, Leinster Football Championship Preliminary Rd Replay, Pearse Park

DES BARRY (Former Longford and Longford Town footballer)

DES BARRY was on the Longford senior team for 17 years from his debut in 1982. How did he maintain his enthusiasm for the hard graft entailed in a county that enjoyed little or no success?

"Well, in those days, we had three National League games before Christmas, and then we were off for December and January," he recalled. "There was no collective training so I played for Longford Town in the League of Ireland, and that helped me maintain my enthusiasm and helped me in regards to concentration and mobility work. Although I played corner-forward for Longford, I played left-back in soccer, which was my second love."

While Longford didn't win a Leinster, Des still had days to savour. "My favourite was '88 with Leinster, winning the Railway Cup, and in 1990 I was part of the Rules team in Australia that won 2-1. I was playing well at that time, and was nominated for three All Stars. It was nice to think that you were one of the top players, but you always like to win. Tony McManus (Roscommon) and Nudie Hughes (Monaghan) were among those that pipped me."

However, he wasn't short of home comforts, winning six county championship medals with Longford Slashers, being man of the match in each of the finals, '89 to '91, when they won three in a row. "I was lucky to be part of a team that kept my enthusiasm and habit of winning going."

For Longford, there were near misses, starting with two Leinster under 21 final defeats. "And we lost three All-Ireland B finals – one in extra-time to Clare, another after a replay, to Fermanagh, and a third to Tipperary.

"In the League we won Division 4 and the following year were promoted to Division 2. We had a famous victory over Dublin in the '85 League in Croke Park. Good victories, but never enough."

After he retired, he did some coaching with the Slashers, and then guided Strokestown to a Division 1 League title in Roscommon, and Gortletteragh to the Leitrim intermediate championship and a Division 2 League. He also ran a couple of marathons.

Des, who has been working in the Post Office since '85, is married to Finola from Gortletteragh, and they have four children. The youngest, Jessica (14), is already playing for the county.

And his view on today's Leinster tie between Longford and Offaly? "With both teams at about the same level, playing at home might tilt the balance in our favour. It's a good opportunity."

Quote of the week

'I thought not having an in-goal camera was crucial. I just couldn't believe it when we looked upstairs and, in a semi-final, there's no in-goal camera to confirm or deny a try. It was a very crucial part of the game and that blows me away.'

- Munster head coach Rob Penney on the controversial decision not to award Simon Zebo a try in Glasgow on Friday night

Number of the week


Lionel Messi has signed a new four-year deal at Barcelona, which reportedly makes him the highest-paid footballer in the world, earning €20m a year

Have Your Say

All top free-takers stole a yard or two

I am one of the hurling fraternity and don't regard myself as one of a somewhat distinct species even though I have seen more All-Irelands than I care to remember, the first was the classic encounter between Kilkenny and Cork way back in 1947.

What a shock to the system it was to see Dermot Kavanagh condemn the penalty-taking of TJ Reid in the recent classic Kilkenny v Tipperary National Hurling League final. I don't know where he got the idea or assertion that the art of taking a penalty was Kanturk-style and honed on the Gaelic football fields of Duhallow. As the rule stands, Anthony Nash, TJ Reid or any other free-taker you might like to mention is perfectly entitled to strike the ball from a forward position inside the 20-metre mark.

Both of the above players have, by their skill and expertise, brought joy to their respective counties as penalties crashed into the opponents' net changing the whole course of games.

With regard to Kilkenny's bid to regain the All-Ireland title by using tactics more at home on the playing fields of Kilcar, Glenties or the Inishowen peninsula, I'm sure Brian Cody and his selectors have a far better hurling plan than that envisaged by Mr Kavanagh; presumably he refers to plans hatched in the football strongholds of Donegal.

Going to his last piece about the old Kilkenny free-takers, Sim Walton was not the free-taker in that halcyon period of 1904-1913 when the county won seven All-Irelands. That honour fell to his Tullaroan clubmate and colleague, Dan Kennedy. Later on in the '30s and '40s, Lory Meagher and Jim Langton took the frees (penalties did not exist in those far-off days) from the 21-yard line with a heavy leather ball. And they often missed too.

I have seen all the great free-takers in the intervening period. Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard, Eddie Keher, Nicky English, Paul Flynn, Henry Shefflin etc, etc, most of whom stole a yard or two or maybe more when taking a 21-yard free.

How all those great men would love to have stood over a penalty in the modern era with the lighter ball that the hurlers have now. I'm sure they'd be thinking to a man, 'I'll bury it in the back of the net'.

Nothing is sacred anymore, Mr Kavanagh, "time and Tide wait for no man", and so it is with the game of hurling as the rules change from year to year and, until they do, please lay off TJ Reid and his majestic free-taking.

Seamus ó Murchú

Penalty rule open to interpretation

Having observed the recent change in the taking of hurling penalties, I am of the opinion that the scooping of the ball forward in order to hit the ball nearer the three defenders is potentially a very dangerous development in the game.

Davy Fitzgerald was correct when he outlined the possibility of a player being hit in the throat. It would be equally serious if a player was hit by the ball in the lower regions of his anatomy. We had a similar (albeit accidental) injury to a Limerick goalie some years ago.

As regards the taking of penalties, rule 2.3 on the taking of a penalty states: 'A penalty puck shall be taken at the centre point of the 20-metre line and the semi-circle arc, and only three defending players may stand on the goal-line'.

When a penalty-taker scoops the ball up from the centre point does that not constitute that the ball is in play? And if the rule states that the defenders 'may' stand on the goal-line does that not mean a defender may come off his line to block the scooped ball?

In football, can a penalty-taker kick the ball halfway towards the goal and then kick the ball again? I doubt it, but effectively that is what is happening in hurling. If the rule was applied correctly in the All-Ireland last year, the Clare goalie should not have been stopped from doing so by the referee insisting that the free be re-taken.

My question to the GAA management is this: would you like to see your son on the goal-line, not being allowed move off his line, when the ball is so near him when being hit?

Jack Ryan

Buckley has taken Saints to new level

TAKE a bow, Eamonn Sweeney. I read with great pleasure your tribute to my club, St Patrick's Athletic.

I have supported The Saints for close on 60 years. Since Liam Buckley took over, he has brought our club to a new level.

I was lucky to be in The Showgrounds with my two grand-daughters. What a game. There is no place like Richmond Park on Friday nights. Come and enjoy The Saints.

Peter Ryan

Sunday Indo Sport

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