The Nire’s involvement in this weekend’s Munster club football final is an obvious starting point, but thereafter, several diversions materialise. There’s talk of kicking footballs in a Kilkenny jersey on the same day he collected his first hurling All-Star, packed houses at Croker and Thurles followed by the mad rush to complete the Waterford SFC in front of a few hundred die-hards in Dungarvan, changing how Waterford football is viewed from the outside, an afternoon in the company of the Gooch and the importance of Derek McGrath staying on as Déise hurling boss.
All told, 2016 has been good to Jamie Barron. And there is the potential for it to finish on the highest of notes, should The Nire make history this Sunday as the first Waterford football club to capture the provincial title.
No Tipperary club had managed that feat until Clonmel Commercials, or Michael Quinlivan at least, tore up the script 12 months ago.
The Nire wear the same tag that Commercials carried into the 2015 decider against Nemo Rangers.
Barron, who lines out at left half-back for the Ballymacarbry club, believes the dismissive attitude towards Waterford football means the county champions, more often than not, are completely written off when they set off into Munster. The talent is there, he asserts, it is simply a case of potential Waterford footballers favouring hurling.
“County hurlers like Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, Shane Walsh, Tadhg de Búrca, and Brian O’Halloran, if they were able to just play football, then Waterford would be a lot more competitive than they have been. There are footballers out there. Conor Gleeson is a serious player for us and if he was down in Kerry, he’d probably be on Kerry teams. The footballers are there but it’s just a matter of getting them onto the field, that’s the problem.
“We beat Carbery Rangers and I wouldn’t say we’d were shocked at all. If you looked at the betting odds for us against Carbery Rangers, I think we were 9/2 and they were 1/6. Anyone you’d talk to would be saying: ‘They have that very wrong’. That’s good for us,” reckons Barron.
“People probably are underestimating us a bit. You literally have nothing to lose when you’re not expected to win. That helps us.”
No question but that was the case during their run to the Munster decider in 2014. Cratloe, who they met in the semi-final, had come within a point of Dr Crokes in the previous year’s decider.
In the final, then, they had Austin Stacks taken for 1-3 before the Kerry champions realised they had a scrap on their hands.
That 3-5 to 2-4 defeat still gnaws. A game left behind?
“You could say that. The way that the game panned out, we would’ve been very disappointed. They had a man sent off early. If you are to tell the truth, we thought we should have won.
“We’ve more experience now. This is our second Munster club final in three years so hopefully, it’ll stand to us.
“Crokes are a serious club team and have won so many Kerry and Munster titles. If you can’t believe you’re going to go in, test them and try to beat them, you’re not in with much of a chance. We’ll give it everything.”
How would he fancy shadowing Colm Cooper for the hour?
“I don’t think the manager would trust me on him,” comes the witty reply of the UCC Food Business student.
Last weekend aside, added to a free weekend in early October, Barron has lined out for either the Nire or Fourmilewater on every weekend since Waterford’s All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Kilkenny on August 13.
Switching off, mentally and physically, is a priority next month before launching into a fourth campaign under Derek McGrath.
“We’re delighted to have him and hopefully, he stays on for as long as he can. He’s a man you can go to for anything.”
On 2017, he added: “You’re mad to get back at it. We’re going in the right direction. We just have to kick on and try to get to the All-Ireland hopefully and win it if we can.”
For now, though, the big ball is the priority.
“I’m enjoying it. It wouldn’t be as pressurised as the hurling would be, you can kind of relax and enjoy going training.”