Glentoran defender Caolan Marron has revealed how Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough was a major help early in his career.
When Baraclough was the boss of the Under-21s, he called Marron into his squad in 2019, giving the young defender the opportunity to play alongside the likes of Ethan Galbraith and Alfie McCalmont.
Marron says: “It was a brilliant experience and probably the most memorable time of my career to date, travelling to different countries and coming up against top-class players from all over the world.
“Ian Baraclough is a gentleman and a lovely person on and off the pitch. He was a big help to me when I was in the Under-21 squad. When I came in, I wasn’t expecting to play but he gave me a chance and kept me in after that.
“It was fantastic to play alongside Eoin Toal from Derry, a good friend of mine who I’ve known since I was 12, and Kofi Balmer at Larne. It was also great to play with Ethan Galbraith and Alfie McCalmont, two really good footballers.
“Those boys are playing week in, week out over in England so going to train with them and being in their company helped me a lot.”
Gaining international recognition and playing regularly in the Irish Premiership, initially with Glenavon before his move to The Oval, stopped Marron from continuing a promising GAA career. He was an impressive performer on the half-forward line in Gaelic football at schools’ level and with his club Corrinshego.
Today, Marron will be hoping Armagh defeat Galway in the All-Ireland Quarter-Finals at Croke Park.
“Some of the boys playing for Armagh, I either played with them or against them,” he explains.
“I played a lot when I was younger and enjoyed it but when I signed for Glenavon and started going away with Northern Ireland, Gaelic wasn’t really an option.”