All-Star defender Cathal Barrett has raged at the rumours and inaccuracies he claims are often spread about Tipperary players, admitting he has a “fierce problem” with it.
The two-time All-Ireland winner found himself at the centre of a disciplinary saga in the summer of 2017 when he was dropped from the panel by then boss Michael Ryan.
Barrett played in the Munster Championship defeat to Cork that summer but was dropped for the remainder of the campaign as Tipp reached the All-Ireland semi-finals.
The 26-year-old, who started all but one of this year’s championship games as Tipp regained the MacCarthy Cup, admitted it was a difficult period that wasn’t helped by seeing his name in headlines and being the subject of social media conversation.
“I’d have a fierce problem with things like that because, at the end of the day, this is only an amateur sport,” said Barrett.
“I don’t get paid for any of it and no-one knows any of the sacrifices that we make in our personal lives or anything like that so I don’t really feel that it’s right that your name is constantly thrown into the media, especially when you’re not even part of the bloody panel.
“It’s not fair on the players that are there to wake up and they’re getting ready to play a match and there’s an article on Cathal Barrett and the headline then and he’s not even here, I don’t think that’s fair. Especially for your own family. My mother doesn’t need to see my name in a headline or in some stupid article.
It’s an amateur sport and we have personal lives as well as family and work commitments and all these things come into account in your career. I’d have a fair issue with things like that now, yeah.
The Holycross-Ballycahill clubman said the level of intrusion at times is at odds with the amateur status of players: “It is, yeah, it is when maybe something goes wrong, absolutely, like, it’s absolutely jumped on,” he said.
“I don’t know what it is, especially with Tipp, like, it’s completely jumped on and it’s blown up into something bigger and something that it’s not as well. It is massive, you’re in the public eye. You’re role models but then people seem to forget that you are a person as well at the end of the day, you’re not completely made of stone either.”
Barrett agreed that social media contributes to the situation. “It does, social media drives everything,” he said.
“Social media is probably everything that’s wrong with this world at times. It’s great but it has plenty of things wrong with it too, like.”
Asked if he felt 90% of the rumours and speculation about him is inaccurate, Barrett nodded.
“I suppose 90% of the hearsay that’s said about me, absolutely, would be very inaccurate,” he said. “Anybody that knows me, all you have to do is ask me and I’ll tell you if something is true or not.
“I’m fairly straight down the line in that regard. You don’t like to hear these things and it’s not nice for your family to be reading something about you, hearing this, that and the other.”
Barrett reckons Tipp’s strong finish to the decade, claiming two of the last four All-Ireland titles, and winning three in total in the 2010s, will have won over some who doubted the group.
“I’d say maybe it has changed people’s perceptions of Tipperary,” he said. “Like, any time Tipp lost a match it was: ‘Ah, sure they were out drinking the weekend before’.
I think we jump to conclusions very quick in Tipp and to go on the attack rather than go on the defence (of players).
Barrett was a virtual ever present in this year’s Championship though he did miss the Munster final defeat to Limerick due to hamstring trouble. He explained the lengths he went to in the fortnight before that game to play some part.
“I would have literally parked work for two weeks and would have went over to Paddy O’Brien (physio) every single day, in the mornings, then in the gym in the evenings to do more,” said Barrett.
“I would have just ate and slept the Munster final until that day of the game, just to try to get back.
“Would I have been fit to play? I would have exhausted everything to be able to play and I got myself, in the space of two weeks, from a grade two hamstring which is usually six to eight weeks in recovery terms, to a lot better but realistically I wouldn’t have been fit to play.”
It all worked out, of course, and Barrett is a two-time All-Ireland winner now, collecting his second All-Star award weeks later. He was involved in a key moment of August’s final when Kilkenny forward Richie Hogan was sent off for a blow to the head of Barrett. More recently, the pair were team-mates during the All-Stars exhibition game in Abu Dhabi.
“We never brought it up at all,” said Barrett. “We chit-chatted about everything else. I’m not going to put salt in any wounds and he’s not going to (bring it up), there’s no point. There’s nothing really to say on it between the two of us.”
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