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'I don’t know does it make it more special, but it certainly makes it more worthwhile'

Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett is happy to put off-field incidents behind him after a difficult few years.

Tipperary's Cathal Barrett.
Tipperary's Cathal Barrett.
Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

IT’S BEEN AN enjoyable few months for Cathal Barrett.  

After going through the usual circuit of squad events and school visits following Tipperary’s defeat of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final, the last few weeks have provided a few more exotic experiences.

Barrett isn’t long back from an All Star trip to Abu Dhabi, where in between visits to palaces and mosques, he was able to take in a Killers concert and some Formula One. At the end of the month he’ll join the Tipperary squad on a team holiday which will take in New York and Cancun.

These are the perks of being part of a successful team, but not too long ago Barrett’s inter-county career appeared to be up in the air.

In the summer of 2017 Michael Ryan dropped him from the Tipperary panel due to what was described as ‘an internal issue’. His involvement in an incident which saw a barman assaulted would later become public knowledge. In March of last year, he was found asleep and intoxicated while in charge of a stationary car in heavy snow, and was subsequently banned from driving for two years.

Naturally, neither incident sits comfortably with the 26-year-old. In the case of the assault – which happened while Barrett was in a leg brace after injuring himself in a Munster Championship defeat to Cork a week previously – he feels his name got dragged into something that had nothing to do with him. A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He puts the latter incident down to a misjudgment on his part.

It all boiled down to a highly stressful time for the defender, who also battled a succession of injuries since winning his first All-Ireland medal in 2016.

Things had gone drastically off course for the 2014 Young Hurler of the Year, yet as he sits down for a rare interview, Barrett insists that even when he found himself on the outskirts of the Tipperary squad, he never doubted his ability to get back on track and rediscover his best form on the pitch.

“Honestly, no [I didn't doubt myself],” he says.

“I knew it would be tough. The only thing was if I tore the hammer, I was like here we go again. Another six, seven weeks away. But other than that, no, it was never really that mindset.”

walter-walsh-and-cathal-barrett Barrett was Young Hurler of the Year in 2014. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Barrett is clearly uncomfortable talking about that period of his life, but stresses that those experiences didn’t make this year’s All-Ireland win any more special than his first.

“I don’t know does it make it more special but it certainly makes it more worthwhile. That you put in so much of an effort, and you came through a few little barriers, that you got your result for the work you put in.”

While it was Ryan who offered the olive branch and welcomed Barrett back into the panel, it is under Liam Sheedy where the 26-year-old has really started to flourish again. It is evident that Sheedy has been able to create a strong bond within the current Tipperary squad, and Barrett is clearly grateful for the faith his manager has shown in him.

“Liam is very loyal and he’d put everything into you if you put everything into him. It all comes down to trust at the end of the day, I trust him and he trusts me and that was it really,” he explains.

“He brings in the best people around you. He knows for him to be the best at his job, he needs the best people around him and he needs us at our best. But he’s willing to turn every stone to make sure we succeed because if we succeed, he’ll succeed. 

liam-sheedy-celebrates-after-the-game-with-cathal-barrett Barrett celebrates with Liam Sheedy following the 2019 All-Ireland final. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“He’s very good like that, the ego is left at the door to make sure everyone else gets there and then he’ll get there as well in the end.” 

Having come through those dark days, Barrett is understandably keen to focus on the future. Nobody in the Tipperary panel needs to be reminded that the Premier haven’t managed to win back-to-back All-Irelands since 1965.

Barrett is aware of the desire within the county to end that unwanted run, but says that pressure won’t be an issue for the squad in 2020.

“That wouldn’t be my motivation, my motivation would just be to win the All-Ireland. I wouldn’t be thinking of two in a row, I’d just be thinking of a new year, new goal and just winning it again,” he continues.

“I’d say no matter what way Tipp are there is always pressure on us to win something.

“We are a very proud county and our supporters do demand results. No different to us, we demand it from ourselves as well. It’s hard to know really. I don’t think we’re going to feel the pressure of having to deliver anything. All we can do is our absolute very best and train to be the best we can be, and if we can come out with something in the end, all well and good.

“If we can’t, I don’t think they’ll [the supporters] shoot us surely. Hopefully not anyway. We might get a couple of kicks on the way, but as long as they know that we’ll be trying our absolute best to win anything we can, I think that will suffice.” 

Barrett is just be happy to be playing his part in that journey again.

Cathal Barrett was speaking at the launch of On The Ball Team Building training camps in the Dingle Peninsula. On The Ball Team Building create experiences designed to develop, energise and inspire teams to perform at their peak for the season ahead. For more information visit http://www.ontheballteambuilding.com

- Originally published at 07.05

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