An ill Cathal Barrett has revealed he was so concerned about losing his starting place in the Tipperary defence last Sunday that he only cried off on the morning of the game.
The Holycross-Ballycahill man should be available for this weekend’s Division 1 quarter-final against Offaly having succumbed to a bout of flu and a chest infection.
Barrett, the 2014 young hurler of the year, had been under the weather for a couple of days and had hoped it might clear before the squad made the trip down the M8 to Páirc Uí Rinn.
“I got the second season syndrome mentioned to me a couple of hundred times now. You would feel a small bit of pressure but I’ll take it in my stride, really. It’ll only just drive you on more.
“I left it until last Sunday morning to make a call. You can’t be missing any games with lads at your heels, especially the likes of Michael Cahill and Paddy Stapleton and them. I’d be keen to come back.
“It’s hard to drop a lad who’s playing well. You’ve to put away your individual ambitions and just make the sacrifice for the team.”
Barrett had been in Thurles picking up antibiotics as he listened to the Cork game on radio when Tipperary came back to win from 12 points down.
“For the last 50 minutes I was driving home, listening to it on the radio, and nearly crashed the car 20 times, roaring and different things!”
Tipperary are firm favourites to claim a first league title in seven years but Barrett simply wants to extend the county’s winning run of four games.
Asked if it is important to win the competition, he shrugged: “I think it would be nice to win the league final. Winning is a habit, and you can keep believing, following through in Munster, and the championship. I think it would be a massive step.”
Talk to him about All-Ireland crowns and he’s more emphatic.
This being Eamon O’Shea’s last season in charge, lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup for his manager is an incentive.
“We know it is (O’Shea’s final year), but definitely I would like to win an All-Ireland for him. He’s an excellent coach who gave me my chance.”
As a newbie last year, Barrett was targeted by teams, particularly by Kilkenny who put Henry Shefflin in the corner against him only for the Tipperary man to gain the upper hand.
The same happened in the drawn All-Ireland final when he won the personal tussle with Walter Walsh.
The 21-year-old might be 5ft11in and weigh just over 12 stones but he thrives on duels against bigger framed players.
“I don’t mind being targeted at all. It’d drives me on more, there’s nothing more satisfying than proving people wrong.
O’Shea had indicated to him beforehand Shefflin might be his marker in last year’s final. Barrett didn’t bat an eyelid. “I am not going to be going out, looking for his autograph or anything like that. I am going to out hurl for Tipperary, not to hurl for Kilkenny.”
Although Kilkenny were under strength going down to Tipperary in Thurles last Sunday week, Barrett took something from the victory having lost three games to them last season.
“To win one, it means a lot. And it takes a monkey off your back, this perception that we can’t beat them and all of that. I don’t read too much into it myself now, but I am sure some of the older lads might have it in the back of their minds because they have played them so much over the past five or six years, that they might think ‘Jaysus, we might not get them again’. I have only played them once or twice so it didn’t bother me.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved