Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

County game up for Fermanagh's Barry Owens

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Fermanagh's Barry Owens
Fermanagh's Barry Owens

So, Fermanagh's Barry Owens has retired. At least from county football anyway.

The Teemore Shamrocks man will continue to play for his club as long as his body allows, but as for county stuff, the game was up months ago. He returned for the last couple of league games and played as a makeshift full-forward, scoring a goal in each game.

In this summer's Championship he spent half an hour at full-forward against both Antrim and Laois, grabbing a goal in each game.

But it was his goal on summer solstice, June 21, 2008, that captured what he was really about. Having endured a heart operation, he was introduced as a surprise sub, to play for the first time ever for the county as full-forward in an Ulster semi-final against Derry.

With almost his first play of the day, he rose above then All-Star full-back Kevin McCloy to punch a goal and send Fermanagh into their first Ulster final since 1982.

It wasn't fitting that his inter-county career concluded with a gut-wrenching defeat away to Laois, but then it's not as if Owens was unfamiliar with the sensation.

After coming on in the drawn 2008 final and frightening the life out of the Armagh defence, he was sent on again in the replay and this time, his first play was to latch onto a ball and rupture his anterior cruciate ligament on the Clones turf.

The full-forward days were great fun, but he should be recalled as a princely full-back, the position in which he won All-Stars in 2004 and 2008.

For a while at least, club full-forwards in Fermanagh won't be safe yet.

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