Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport GAA

Barton has a battle on his hands to overcome old foes Tyrone

By Declan Bogue

Whenever a new county manager lands a role, the first call a journalist makes is to someone on the ground for some background information.

Damian Barton was widely known anyway, but his spells in charge of clubs in Down, Tyrone and his native Derry, along with University Ulster Jordanstown - and then you had his contributions on the awkwardly-sloping leather seats of UTV's midweek Gaelic games show 'End to End' in the early 00's, along with his newspaper columns - meant that Barton carried a huge profile anyway.

What stood out for the local reporters in some initial fact-checking however was how animated he would become on the sideline. Referees would be given a rough time and he brought a certain early Paddy O'Rourke style to proceedings, a ball of energy on the touchline.

As a player, he mixed the rough with the smooth. A graceful and elegant player, he lined out in the number 11 jersey which is the tailor-made position for stylists of the game. But he could handle himself too and he never required the referee's help for protection.

County football has little room for niceties, but it was noticeable from the first game this season that Barton was almost hyperactive on the sidelines, frequently finding himself a few yards past the touchline.

At the Ulster Championship launch, when he was asked about the heat in the previous games this season, he answered: "I can't see there's any sparks gonna' fly particularly between Derry and Tyrone as any other contest. Again, I just hope the media don't go down that route, and whip this up to something it's not.

"I think the media has exaggerated it out of all proportion. It obviously makes good press, it sells papers, and at 80p a pop it's not bad."

If Derry stand a chance against Tyrone on Sunday, they have to turn the pitch into a battle zone, just as they did with Monaghan in 2009, just as they did with Tyrone in 2006.

No wonder Barton is throwing a curveball out there. The question is, who is being fooled here?

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph