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How One Legend Turned His Back On America To Fulfil Dublin Dream

keith barr

Keith Barr had a glittering Dublin career. 

The Erins Isle man is one of the greatest centre-backs in Dublin GAA history. Barr played a pivotal role in a Dublin side that continually challenged for honours in the 1990s.

keith barr

Barr and his teammates took home multiple Leinster titles in that spell and appeared in three All-Ireland finals, winning one in 1995.

The former Dublin captain is regarded as one of the county’s most iconic players however it could have turned out differently for Keith Barr.

After representing Dublin minors in the mid-eighties, like so many others, Barr headed for the United States where he remained for two years.

American Dream

It seemed that Dublin had lost him forever. However, when a touring side visited Boston in 1988, it paved the way for him to return home and fulfil his childhood dream.

“I would have played Dublin minor so my wish was always to play for Dublin,” Barr told Comhra Le Tomas with Tomas O’Se.

“So you always have that in you (the dream of playing senior football for Dublin) but I went to America. I played Dublin minor in ’85 and ’86 then went to America in ’87.

“I had about two years in Boston. Actually, when Gerry McCaul was manager, the Dublin team came over to Boston for a tour.

“And they played against our club Colmcilles in Boston. When I was out there we would have played against (them). I would have known a lot of the lads that were over. So there was a great session there for about a week.

“We played a match or two against them and Gerry McCaul invited me back. So I came home in December ’88 joined the team and never looked back.

“So, I had approximately 12, 13 years of a great career, a most enjoyable career.”

Keith Barr played in an era with no back-door system meaning one loss and your championship was over.

Today’s system provides us with more games however many argue the season is still too long. This is a sentiment Barr agrees with.

Inter-county season

“Without any doubt, the inter-county championship season is too long. First of all, managers now have squads of 30 players within a squad.

“Yet they continuously complain if they have to play three matches on three consecutive weekends.

“With all the modern science and approaches that managers bring and the backrooms that they bring, these guys are physically fit, I think they do too much training and most players, if they really look inside them as footballers, they want to play matches, but yet when they’re asked to play three consecutive games in three consecutive weekends there’s a big hullabaloo over it.”

Barr continued by raising a valid point about the size of inter-county squads. The two-time All-Star feels county teams should be able to play on multiple weekends with the size of squads managers are boasting.

keith barr

“I ask the question, what the hell are you training for? This is what you are. Why do you have a big squad? Use them. But they don’t.

“I just think it’s drawn out, I would have more matches on a more regular basis. It’s even happening at club level.

“In a club championship you’re asked to play a match on a Saturday, the following Wednesday, the following Sunday and club players don’t get a break yet when it comes to the inter-county player they’re given all these protocols where they get time to recover.

keith barr

“Recover from what? An inter-county match, Jesus Christ, let’s get on with it.”

Barr added:

“Having breaks of two to three to four weeks, sometimes a month between games, it’s absolutely crazy.

“It’s a waste of resources, it’s a waste of players’ energies, I just don’t understand if you have a big squad why aren’t county managers encouraged to use these players.”

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