AARON Barry reckons he will have mixed feelings should Derry City reach this season’s FAI Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium.
The experienced defender had to call a premature end to his season through injury this week, and while he would love to see the ‘Candy Stripes’ lift the Blue Riband trophy, he knows it will be ‘extremely disappointing’ to have to watch from the stands.
Derry City are just 180 minutes from reaching this year’s showpiece but Barry, who travelled to Wexford yesterday for tonight’s quarter-final tie, will have to be content with a role with BBC Radio Foyle’s commentary team.
As the season reaches the business end with Derry in pole position in the race for the third European spot in the league and within touching distance of an FAI Cup semi-final, Barry has reason to be ‘gutted’.
The defender was part of the Derry team which lost 2-0 to St Patrick’s Athletic in the League of Ireland showpiece two years ago.
So the competition was high on his personal agenda this season and while he will still play a role in the dressing room, he knows he will find it harder to take the closer City get to reaching the final.
If we do get to the final and I think we have a great chance of doing that if we play to our abilities, it will be extremely disappointing but I’ll just do a John Terry and get my photograph taken - I’ll have no problem doing thatAaron Barry
Barry says he will do everything he can to be a part of the occasion should they get there and even promised to risk mockery and ‘do a John Terry’ and pose with the team in his full strip should they win the FAI Cup this year.
“We’re playing Wexford and I would like to think we’re the better team in the tie, so if we win that it’s the semi-finals and anything can happen from there,” he said.
“It’s a tough one to take but I’ll be in the dressing room before every game trying to get the lads going and it won’t change how I act before a game. If we do get to the final and I think we have a great chance of doing that if we play to our abilities, it will be extremely disappointing but I’ll just do a John Terry and get my photograph taken - I’ll have no problem doing that,” he laughed.
Joking aside, Barry is devastated to be ruled out for the final stretch of the season having played a huge part alongside skipper, Ryan McBride, in Derry’s impressive defensive record - the third best in the league.
“It’s extremely disappointing given our defensive record this year is really good,” explained the former Sheffield United man. “I think we have the most clean sheets in the league.
“I’ve known in my head since the Limerick game (the EA Sports Cup semi-final on August 1st) that it would be tough to get back from the injury but I gave it every chance. I kept the lads updated on my progress and they’re obviously gutted for me too. But it’s not just about me, the team has to keep moving on.”
In Barry and McBride’s absence the Derry defence has managed five clean sheets out of their last six games and fullbacks, Niclas Vemmelund and Dean Jarvis have deputised at centre half superbly. In fact City have been playing with four fullbacks across the back four in recent weeks which has been hugely impressive for Barry.
“You would think with myself and Ryan being out at the same time our defence might suffer but Nico and Dean Jarvis have come in at centre halve and Conor McDermott and Paddy McClean or Ben Doherty have come in as young fullbacks and they’ve been outstanding.
“To be honest I think a lot of credit has to go to Ger (Doherty) from that point of view. He’s absolutely second to none and probably the best goalkeeper I’ve ever played with.
“He makes it so easy for you. Especially with the young boys coming in, he’s made their job as easy as he can.”
It was clearly a painful decision to call and end to his season, but Barry explains he was simply exasperating the injury by playing through the pain barrier.
“It’s really disappointing, especially as we’ve been having our best year since I arrived at the club. I’ve had this injury from probably the first game of the season and I’ve been playing through but have probably never been 100 per cent because of it.
“I just kept wanting to play and it was allowing me to play at stages and at other stages I was in ridiculous pain and I couldn’t even train and was being rolled out to play games which I had no problem with. It was my choice along with Mickey Hegarty (physio). But it caught up with me now and isn’t allowing me to continue anymore. The aim is to be ready for preseason. I’ll do my rehab and try to get back as soon as possible.”
And the defender praised the work of club physio Michael Hegarty and Strength and Conditioning coach ,Pearse Lafferty for their help and advice.
“Mickey has been absolutely fantastic. The work he does with us everyday and Pearse as well. They’ve done wonders with me this season to allow me to play as many games as I have done this season. They deserve a lot of credit.”