"I almost felt like I lost two years really" - Barrett already focused on the years ahead 2 months ago

"I almost felt like I lost two years really" - Barrett already focused on the years ahead

"I almost felt like I lost two years really..."

Cathal Barrett was only 23, but he'd already achieved a fair amount with the Tipperary senior hurling team. First called up to the panel two years earlier in 2014, he ended a stellar debut season as the Young Hurler of the Year.

He'd played in two All-Ireland finals in his first year up, and earned rave reviews for his combative and plucky corner back play against a dangerous Kilkenny forward line. Fair going for a rookie.

2016, and he was on top. After a couple of near misses, Barrett and Tipperary reached the holy grail that September when they beat Kilkenny in the final. The Holycross-Ballycahill defender was again a standout performer and it was that winter when he picked up his first All-Star award.

He was at this stage, widely regarded as the best corner back in the land. In tandem, Tipp were expected to dominate for years.

2017 brought its own problems though, for Tipperary and for Barrett. After blistering through the early rounds of the League, Michael Ryan's side were hammered by Galway on a wet day in the League final in Limerick.

Cracks began to appear.

Cork beat them in Thurles in the first round of the Munster championship. In Tipperary, they don't take these kind of things well.

For Barrett, it was even worse as an injury sustained in the game looked set to rule him out for the majority of the summer. He was later dropped for an internal issue, and watched on as Tipperary were knocked out of the championship by Galway in the semi-final.

2018 and the injury problems didn't disappear. Barrett was back in the panel but he only managed one game in the championship, when he lined out at midfield against Clare.

It was a topsy turvy few years. Liam Sheedy came in and Tipp's stock had fallen a fair height in two years.

"We all have the same agenda, we all want to win," says Barrett.

He was mad to get back involved in 2017, and bristles at the suggestion that he's ever had a disciplinary problem.

"When I got injured in 2017, I didn't leave any stone unturned, I was still training away - back in with the club, just trying to get back in as much as I could.

"I would have talked to Michael (Ryan) a bit, even before the Galway game - I would have almost said 'look, will you bring me back for the match' kind of thing...

"I'd argue that I don't have disciplinary issues. I've never had a problem when it comes to Tipperary hurling or training, or missing training or anything like that...Liam told me what he expected of me and that was it like..."

And Barrett has fulfilled expectations to precise detail, winning his second All-Ireland and second All-Star in 2019. His sharp, clever and incisive corner back play sets him apart from the rest.

"I don't think I've ever, maybe once in my career I've driven the ball ninety or a hundred yards down the field just to get it out of there. I'd be shot, and rightly so..."


You can watch The GAA Hour Show from Thursday here, with Cathal Barrett in studio.