AARON BARRY handed Derry City an early Christmas present by turning down a ‘tempting’ offer from Cork City in favour of re-signing for the ‘Candy Stripes’.
The experienced centre-half could have followed former City midfielder, Conor McCormack to the Leesiders for a lucrative deal which would have left Kenny Shiels with a defensive headache going into the 2017 season.
However, after ‘strongly considering’ a contract from the FAI Cup champions, the Co. Wicklow native decided to commit his immediate future to the Brandywell club and penned a one-year deal yesterday afternoon.
“I’m happy to get it sorted,” said Barry. “I was strongly considering an offer from Cork,” he revealed. “I spoke with them and got all the details but I took my time with it. I know Kenny (Shiels) was panicking with it. It was a tough time for him as much as it was for me and it took a lot of convincing from my family and my girlfriend.
“But I personally can’t wait to get back playing and both parties are happy with the one-year deal to be honest. I missed nearly the last half of the season so I can’t wait to get back.”
Derry boss, Shiels was concerned that Barry had his ‘head turned’ by the Rebels, claiming a potential deal looked ‘ominous’ after the defender failed to get in touch last week.
I know Kenny (Shiels) was panicking with it. It was a tough time for him as much as it was for me and it took a lot of convincing from my family and my girlfriend.Aaron Barry
And Barry admits he gave a Cork contract plenty of thought but felt Derry City was his best option as he looks to return to his best form after his successful hip operation.
The 24 year-old sustained a small tear in his cartilage on the opening day of the season before aggravating the injury last April when he returned to action too soon.
He went under the surgeon’s knife last September and has continued his rehabilitation during the off-season with City physio, Michael Hegarty. Barry insists the quality care he received from the club’s medical team played a big part in his decision to stay at Derry City.
“The big thing for me was the fact I just had surgery on my hip and it’s such an important injury to get right,” he explained. “I just felt that, long term, because of how good the medical side of things and the strength and conditioning are up here, and the fact I have such a close relationship with Mickey (Hegarty) and Pearse (Lafferty), it was better for me to come back and really get my hip right.
“I can focus on it and keep it right for this season and play as many games as I can this year. So the medical side of things played a big part in my decision.”
The former Sheffield United man is excited about his fourth season with the ‘Candy Stripes’ and another UEFA Europa League campaign with the club. And he believes Derry are in good shape going into the 2017 campaign having kept the majority of its back four together.
“The first year I played in Europe we got through a round and we were beat in Belarus by a good team (Shakhtyor Soligorsk). Nearly everyone in the squad has had European experience now. So we want a decent draw in the competition. You could draw an exceptional team straight away and it would be tough. But you could draw a team with a similar ability and if you get through a round like you seen with Dundalk, anything can happen.”