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GAA Football

Where are the now? Former Armagh and Killeavy forward Barry Duffy

Armagh's Barry Duffy comes up against Fermanagh's Barry Owens in the 2002 Ulster SFC semi-final at Clones. Picture by Oliver McVeigh
Neil Loughran

Age: 40

Club: Killeavy

Position: Forward

When did you play for Armagh?

My first game with the senior team was in December 1996 and my last involvement was the All-Ireland final against Tyrone in September 2003.

What do you do nowadays?

For the last four years, I have been living in Qatar, working as a commercial/contracts manager on one of the new stadiums for the Fifa World Cup which is due to be staged there in November/December 2022.

Are you still involved in Gaelic football?

Presently, I have no involvement with any Gaelic football team. My last managerial role, along with John King, was with the Killeavy minor football team - we were beaten by Watty Graham’s in the Ulster final on New Year’s Day, 2013.

There is a great GAA league in the Middle East and I have helped out with some coaching with some of the teams in the Qatar club. It was really great to see an old team-mate, Oisin McConville, coming over last year to present the end of year awards for the club.

What do you remember about your first game for Armagh?

My first game was against Monaghan in Clones, as a curtain raiser for the Ulster Club Championship final between Crossmaglen and Bellaghy. Aidan O’Rourke was also making his debut that day at left half-forward – me just in front of him at left corner-forward.

When I lined out that day, I was marking a Monaghan guy who I had actually marked the day before in a Ryan Cup game between UUJ and UCD in Dublin.

What’s your best memory from your playing days?

Generally, I have many great memories from my playing days with the club, college teams and the various underage teams with Armagh, which allowed me to achieve some great success, as well as meet some terrific people along the way - across Ireland and further afield.

Making my Championship debut against Down in the first round of the Ulster Championship in 1998 was pretty special. They had just beaten Tyrone in the preliminary round and were fancied to do well in Ulster that year. We beat them by four or five points.

For us lads growing up in south Armagh and going to school in Newry, there was always good local banter and a great incentive to do well when you were playing against your near neighbours.

But 2002 would have to be the peak. When Joe Kernan and Paul Grimley came in, I got back on the senior squad. Obviously, the highlight that year was winning the final in the newly-completed Croke Park that September.

I have great memories of everything about that year; the camaraderie and banter with the lads, the new training methods and the training weekends, as well as the previously unheard of GAA warm-weather training camp in Spain that management brought in, the game plans that were worked on throughout the League campaign and culminated in great Championship battles right through to September 22.

And the worst?

Losing key games - Championship games, semi-finals and finals.

We lost to Kerry in All-Ireland minor and U-21 semi-finals, I lost a Sigerson Cup final to Tralee IT. Losing to Tyrone in the All-Ireland football final in 2003 was very tough to take. There were so many key moments that day which, had they went the other way, the outcome might have been different.

Biggest character you played with?

I guess it’s no surprise when I say that Benny Tierney was quite the character.

Even during the cold, wet evenings of December through to February, Benny was always laughing and cracking jokes. When I meet Benny now, he enjoys bringing up stories from yesteryear; with a little embellishment of course!

However, he did not stand between the posts for Armagh for many years (in those colourful goalkeeping jerseys), or win numerous Ulster Championships - as well as the All Ireland in 2002 - without having the passion, commitment, talent and leadership qualities that every county team in the country would want in their number one.

Are you glad you played in your era rather than the modern day?

This question does make you feel old!

The game has changed quite a bit since we first started playing senior football. Players are accustomed to superb facilities now; training schedules, training gear, medical assessments etc.

There is the opportunity to play more Championship football now, especially with the introduction of the Qualifiers system. But, aside from the back door, I’m glad to have played in the era that I did.

Who knows what would happen if we were playing today? But we have our memories from what we have done, what we have achieved and the enjoyment we experienced with all the different lads from all the different teams we played on.

Any regrets?

I would have loved to have won a senior club championship with Killeavy after I left the Armagh squad in 2003 – or before, for that matter.

Our club had achieved quite a lot of success at underage level. However, with injuries and the presence of a superb Crossmaglen team in the Armagh championship, this goal was never achieved.

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