ONE OF the first decisions new Derry manager, John Brennan did was hand Barry McGoldrick the captain’s armband.
Despite the claims and experience of such players as Enda Muldoon, Paddy Bradley, Kevin McGuckin and Kevin McCloy, Brennan opted for the 26-year-old from Portstewart who plays his club football with Eoghan Rua, Coleraine.
An All-Ireland minor winner with the Oak Leaf back in 2002, McGoldrick comes from a home steeped in the GAA.
His dad Sean is a former Antrim hurler; his brother Sean Leo is also an important member of the Derry team, while his sisters Meabh and Grainne play camogie for Eoghan Rua and Derry.
Grainne is a camogie All-Star from 2009. And both Meabh and Grainne were both members of the Eoghan Rua team that won an All-Ireland Senior B Camogie Championship last year.
Barry made his senior championship against Tyrone in 2006, having been drafted into the squad the previous November by Paddy Crozier.
In his five seasons in the Derry squad he has played both in defence and in the forward line, but in the last few years he has become better known as a defender either at centre half-back and on the wing.
Apart from reaching the 2008 National League final – defeated by Kerry – senior success has been thin on the ground for Barry since graduating to senior ranks.
Indeed having played the entire campaign he missed the 2008 final against the mighty Kingdom through injury.
Up to last month’s high octane victory over Armagh, Barry and Derry had not seen past the Ulster semi-final.
“When we started out we would have hoped to reach the Ulster final. But given our recent history we were taking nothing for granted. In my four years we have been beaten in four semi-finals, and there are lads longer in the team than me and they have never played in an Ulster final. So with a record like that there was no point looking too far ahead,” said Barry.
“We had it easier than expected against Fermanagh in the first game; we were expecting a tough test against Armagh, but we had a good day and they had not such a good one and here we are in the final.
“We are in the final on merit as are Donegal and we are really looking forward to it as I am sure are the Donegal boys.
“The Armagh game is gone. Armagh is in the past and that has been drummed into us by John (Brennan). We have looked at the game a few times and have learned from a number of mistakes we have made, but otherwise Armagh is gone; it is behind us and we are in the final and Donegal are the opposition.
“We know Donegal well, as they know us. We have an idea how they will play and we know they have a few players that we will need to keep an eye on and we have a number of players they will have to pay special attention to.
“But our focus has been to concentrate on our own game and our own strengths as most teams do nowadays. Alright, you look at their main players and try to come up with ways to nullify them but by and large we will concentrate on getting our own game tactics right. I am sure Donegal approach will be exactly the same.
“We are delighted to be in the final. As Kevin McGuckin said; ‘we have not been in too many so it is a matter of making the most of it’.”