The Leeside Legends series: Pinpoint passing was Paddy Barry’s best quality

The Leeside Legends series: Pinpoint passing was Paddy Barry’s best quality

Paddy Barry of Sarsfields holds the McCarthy Cup aloft after Cork beat Dublin in the 1952 All-Ireland final. Picture: Ref. 677E

THE Sarsfields club in the district of Glanmire in Cork may not be rated as the most powerful club in the history of Cork hurling, but they produced a wonderful hurler in Paddy Barry.

Paddy was a forward who had sheer class and first played for Cork in a National League game in 1947.

Coincidence played its part in Paddy’s first appearance for the Rebels as some of the regulars had failed to turn up and he was in right place at the right time.

Paddy was playing tennis with his brother when a car pulled up looking for players to make up the squad and he was more than delighted to facilitate them.

Barry took part in the first-round replay against Tipperary in the Munster Championship game in Limerick.

Following that game he played in league and tournament games until he established himself as a regular in the Cork forward line in 1952.

Paddy was an opportunist and forward with superb vision and his ability to spot an open player was a sight to behold.

He was excellent when pulling off the ground, could cross it strategically, create openings and then add the finishing touch.

Indeed, Barry’s vision and passing ability created many a score for Christy Ring and in his own words playing with Ring was a fantastic experience.

“Christy was a fanatic for the game, fabulous really, way out on his own, and a class apart.”

Paddy finally established himself as a regular in the Cork forward set-up in 1952 and was widely regarded as one of the finest forwards of his era.

The Cork supporters enjoyed watching the ground strokes of Barry but his ability to carve open defences with pinpoint assists to fellow forwards that made him a crucial part of the team.

Paddy looked back on the six years from 1949-1954 when Cork met Tipperary each year in the championship with Tipp winning 1949, ’50 and ’51 and Cork successful in ’52, ’53 and ’54- six great matches with little to choose between the teams.

Paddy had also had the honour of captaining his club Sarsfields to victory in the Cork Senior hurling championship in 1951 but his greatest thrill came in 1952 when Cork defeated Dublin in the All-Ireland hurling final.

Barry captained the Cork team on that famous day but for his sister Angela a Presentation nun at Crosshaven it was a stressful day.

Sister Anglea was on a three-day retreat which meant silence and no access to the media, but to great relief the priest giving the retreat ended her agony by whispering to her- “They won”.

The best game that Paddy played was in the 1956 final against Wexford but sadly for him and Cork they lost to Wexford.

The 1960 Munster final against Tipperary proved to be a superb day for Barry and Cork as the memories of that game are very clear.

“I was right-half forward and marking John Doyle and in the course of the game we both dropped our hurleys and started sparring.

“My brother Michael said it was the best fight he ever saw but luckily the referee Gerry Fitzgerald came over and took no action and after getting a good talking to no action was taken mainly because we used our fists and not our hurleys.”

The Sars team which played Barrs in the Cork County Senior Hurling Championship in 1962. Back Jim Coleman, Derry Hassett, Noel Looney, Neilly Long, Paddy Barry, Dinny Hurley, Joe White, Pat Coogan, A N Other, Micka Brennan, Owen Barry. Front: Jim Lotty, A N Other, Tim O’Sullivan, A N Other, Pat O Meara, A N Other, Noel Lotty, Neil Hurley. (The four A N Others are M Kenny, C Long, M O’Driscoll, M McCarthy).
The Sars team which played Barrs in the Cork County Senior Hurling Championship in 1962. Back Jim Coleman, Derry Hassett, Noel Looney, Neilly Long, Paddy Barry, Dinny Hurley, Joe White, Pat Coogan, A N Other, Micka Brennan, Owen Barry. Front: Jim Lotty, A N Other, Tim O’Sullivan, A N Other, Pat O Meara, A N Other, Noel Lotty, Neil Hurley. (The four A N Others are M Kenny, C Long, M O’Driscoll, M McCarthy).

Paddy came from a family of 11 children and was one of nine boys as five of his brothers also played with the Sars Senior team and his record at club level is impeccable playing from 1946 to 1968 a total of 23 years.

Paddy was destined to follow in a family tradition and his Uncle Tom played with Cork and won Senior All-Irelands in 1928, ’29 and 1931.

Paddy Barry had a good record to look back on winning three All-Ireland Senior medals, two National hurling leagues, four Railway Cups, two Cork Senior hurling championships and two Cork Junior county championship medals.

The one regret that Paddy had was that his father Jim never lived to witness his great feats on the hurling field.

Incidentally, Jim Barry was a founder member of the Carrigtwohill GAA club and was a fanatic when it came to their pitch so much that the club named their GAA pitch Pairc Seamus De Barra. The Sarsfield’s club in Glanmire will never forget the day Paddy Barry led them to their first Cork Senior hurling championship in 1951 and his name is still held in great esteem at the club.

FACTFILE:

Paddy Barry is the holder of three All-Ireland senior medals with the first coming in 1952 when he captained the team.

He captained his club Sarsfields to their first Cork Senior hurling championship in 1951.

Barry first played for Cork in 1947 in a National hurling game against Wexford.

He retired from hurling in 1966 after 23 years playing at the top level.

Paddy Barry died in 2000 at the age of 82. A truly great hurler and sportsman.

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