ARRON BARRY insists he’s ‘feeling fit and strong’ following his successful comeback from a hip operation in the close season and views the second phase of games in the Premier Division as a ‘fresh start’ for Derry City.
The spotlight has been thrust upon the Co. Wicklow man as the most senior man in the Derry back line, alongside, skipper, Gerard Doherty, as the club experienced a rocky road during the past few weeks.
And he’s ready to tackle Derry’s recent defensive problems head-on and is confident the club can finally get back to winning ways as they welcome Bohemians to Maginn Park tonight. (K.O. 7.45 p.m.)
It certainly hasn’t come as a major surprise that Derry’s defence would feel the full effects of the loss of inspirational skipper, Ryan McBride and having conceded 14 goals in the past seven games since his sudden death, Barry accepts it was always going to take time to shore up a City backline which was ripped apart.
“It’s probably been my toughest month at Derry with everything that’s happened and with results but in the last three games there’s definitely been an improvement in performances.
“I had a great partnership with Ryan (McBride) and I felt we were coming into our own this year. I felt we were going to have a great year together.”
It’s probably been my toughest month at Derry with everything that’s happened and with results but in the last three games there’s definitely been an improvement in performances.Aaron Barry
Barry made an earlier then expected return to action just six months after surgery in the 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght on March 10th and has gone to be a permanent fixture in the starting XI, playing all nine matches since.
The former Sheffield United man has been asked to play alongside several centre back partners during that time as Kenny Shiels flirted with his available options and has found himself playing in a more unnatural position on the right side of the defence to accommodate Dean Jarvis.
He believes his partnership with Jarvis can only get better and he’s prepared to become more vocal on the pitch to ensure City solidify their defence which has conceded early goals in the last seven fixtures.
“I think it took us a few weeks to find out what was going to be the best option for us in beside me, whether I’m on the left or the right.
“I think with Jarvy in there, he’s experienced and I think he could play any position on the pitch he has that much talent. We have to build our relationship now. Gerard’s talking to us all the time at the back and we’ve got two young fullbacks who are learning as they go. The two of them have great talent and potential. The two fullbacks are great going forward and Jarvy is great going forward but we have to defend first.”
Barry, who turned down the chance to go to Cork City to stay with Derry this year, believes the leadership role comes naturally to him though he admits he’s found recent results extremely hard to take.
“Conceding two a game hurts me. It’s horrible listening to it but it’s a fact though I don’t think it reflects on the team. Since Kenny took over last year we’ve been solid.
“Some of the goals have been wonder strikes, against Limerick and St Pat’s, where you can’t do anything. But some are goals we could really prevent and that’s our job.
“We need to give the attackers a platform where they don’t need to feel the pressure to equalise or get us back in the game.
“I’m taking responsibility now in the back five long with Gerard. We need to give the lads a platform we can go and build on. When you’re 1-0 down, you feel the pressure and might snap at it but at 0-0 the game’s there for the taking and first goal is massive for us.”