Mixed All-Ireland final emotions linger for Barrett

There’s a school of thought that Chris Barrett should have been named man-of-the-match in last year’s All-Ireland football final.

Mixed All-Ireland final emotions linger for Barrett

The Mayo defender had a terrific game, forcing a number of crucial turnovers, though ultimately left the ground tormented after another one-point defeat.

It was his 75th minute foul on Diarmuid Connolly that handed Dean Rock the opportunity to kick the winner for Dublin, securing the three-in-a-row.

And it was Barrett who minutes earlier had narrowly failed to intercept a long range diagonal pass from Connolly to Rock, resulting in the corner-forward fisting over a crucial score.

The foul on Connolly, when Barrett was adjudged to have lunged in on the onrushing forward, was the big one though.

“I should have just stayed, held back, and if I stayed I probably would have just tackled him and he probably wouldn’t have got a point,” said Barrett, at the official relaunch of Wigoders wallpaper and paint company on the Long Mile Road in Dublin.

It’s down to the little mistakes. After the match, I was getting lots of plaudits but I was thinking in the back of my head, ‘Dean Rock scored three points in that second-half and I was marking him’. So that’s what I had in my head. That last free for Diarmuid Connolly as well obviously had a huge impact on the game. It was probably a 50-50 call. I have no misgivings for the referee for giving it, it’s just tough to take that I was the one that gave away the free.

And yet it was arguably Barrett’s best game in a Mayo jersey and definitely his best season, a curious dichotomy he grappled with all winter after undergoing knee surgery in December.

“I pride myself on trying to keep my opposite man scoreless, so there are definitely two of them there that I kind of would put myself at fault for,” said Barrett. “But in saying that, I was immensely proud of how I played as well.”

The 31-year-old Dublin based Barrett hasn’t played for Mayo since, suffering his latest knee injury while on International Rules duty.

It’s left him in a race against the clock to be fit for the May 13 Connacht championship showdown with Galway, a game he says can’t be underestimated in terms of importance.

“They’ve beaten us twice in the last two years which we are not too happy about,” said the Belmullet man.

“It’s a huge focus for us and a huge game. In my mind it’s probably the biggest start to a Championship season that we’ve ever had in terms of the buildup to a match, as well as the calibre of Galway. They’ve really pushed on from last year. They’ve improved no end.”

Barrett conceded the amount of key players who’ve been sidelined for extended periods since last year’s All-Ireland is concerning. He and Keith Higgins, both All-Stars, didn’t play a minute of the league. Neither did Donie Vaughan while Cillian O’Connor and Lee Keegan picked up serious injuries.

“It would be a concern,” nodded Barrett. “I know myself, you can’t miss a chunk of training, a chunk of games and expect to come back in at the level you have been towards the end of last year. So it is a slight concern.

“In saying that, some players have really stepped up too. Eoin O’Donoghue, my own club man, really came to the fore. Conor Loftus has stepped up. Stephen Coen got a lot of games and done very well, so did Patrick Durcan.”

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