ON HOME GROUND Colin Barrett is pictured at Belmullet GAA club in Tallagh.
Belmullet defender Colin Barrett on how his team have defied the odds
OUTSIDE of Belmullet not too many people would have considered the barony men serious contenders for the Moclair Cup a month ago, but how quickly things can change.
Victories over the reigning county champions Knockmore, Aghamore and last weekend against Breaffy have opened the eyes of the Mayo footballing community.
Not that anyone inside the Belmullet camp is getting carried away ahead of next Sunday’s semi-final against outright favourites, Westport.
“Just take every game as it comes really, especially in these conditions this time of year, you need to make sure of absolutely everything,” was how Colin Barrett, Belmullet’s stand-in captain, summed up their unbeaten run to the last four. “In Tallagh we’re kind of used to it, the wind and rain are known as ‘the twins’ around here.”
Belmullet are a team for all occasions, that’s been proven before.
But their quarter-final win over Breaffy represented an important milestone for Damien Mulligan’s team.
“It was massive, some people thought the Knockmore win was a one-off, [so] we had a point to prove. A lot of people had us written off, and you can understand why considering our league form compared to theirs. But against Breaffy we just got stuck in, and the win itself was huge.”
It’s worth remembering than only a few weeks before the club championship started, Belmullet needed a league win to to avoid relegation to Division Three.
“We just regrouped before that Ballinrobe game, we had the county boys back and they always make a difference. But as a group we just upped it a bit, and started playing the football we know we can.”
ONE of those aforementioned county players, Ryan O’Donoghue, had a stellar year for Mayo, and his form has continued into Belmullet’s recent run. Barrett went to school with the All Star nominee and knows the impact he has on this current club team.
“I might be boasting, but I think he’s the best footballer in the country at the moment. He’s in great form, he’s got the talent no question. The one thing that brings him to the next level is his work-rate, it’s unbelievable. The way he works back for the team, and that rubs off on all the other players. All of our forwards show that wonderful work rate. That work rate is a huge thing that Damian (Mulligan) and Peadar (Gardiner) always encourage.
“When Damian came in back in 2018, he brought a real professionalism to things, and more importantly he took our fitness levels up to the next level,” continued the captain. “Peadar this year has been huge, his coaching, his drills have brought a real freshness to things, they’re top notch. When he speaks at training, you really try and apply what he’s telling you in an ‘in-game’ situation.”
Colin was also keen to point out that it wasn’t just a one (or two) man show.
“There’s a whole team behind them; Rowland McIntyre, Eamon Dixon, Adrian Kilker have been with us for years as well, they all play a massive part in things. And I can’t forget Dan Barrett, best stats man in Belmullet. But without all of them we’d be lost”.
When asked about the biggest challenges facing this Belmullet team, the geographical location of the club was brought into perspective. “It’s a huge commitment from everyone, there’s only four or five of us based in Belmullet. We all have to travel midweek for training, there’s lads that leave work early on a Wednesday evening just to get there, and mightn’t make it back until one o’clock in the morning. It’s a credit to them, and everyone really.”
Finally, when asked to sum up the challenge of facing Westport next weekend, Barrett was honest in his assessment of them as a team and a club.
“They’re a flying town! They’re contesting finals at every age; they’re well run from top to bottom and that shows on the pitch. Like ourselves they’re a young side, we’ve come up against them a lot an underage, so we know what they’re about. They’ve serious talent at their disposal, they’ve almost half a Mayo team there. That won’t faze us though, and we’ll give it our very best. Hopefully it’ll be enough.”
Name: Colin Barrett
Occupation: Teacher, Belmullet PS
Did you know? Colin has three All-Ireland medals from his time in Our Lady’s Secondary School, two for Gaelic football and one for soccer.