Barden relishing first year at helm
Glynn-Barntown boss has high hopes
It's been a whirlwind first season in charge of the Glynn-Barntown Senior footballers for Pat Barden. A slow start has quickly been forgotten as five wins on the bounce propelled the Killurin crew into the county final in style.
The success under their new manager should come as no surprise to the Glynn-Barntown faithful. Barden was an influential sidekick to Jason Ryan during his better years in charge of the county team.
That was followed by another stint with his native Adamstown. Barden presided over the three-win group campaign in 2013 in which his side made the last eight of the championship. They have only won three of 18 Senior championship matches since, culminating in relegation last month.
Now some of that magic has rubbed off on a team in the ascendancy. But Barden, a modest operator, was just delighted to get this chance, after Glynn-Barntown's stunning run to the county title last season.
'I was absolutely delighted to get the job because I knew they had a fairly decent team,' Barden said. 'It was obviously very important for them to win it, as they had been there or thereabouts for three or four years at Intermediate.
'A good few of the team were getting to 23, 24 and they were probably saying if they are going to be getting back to Senior, they had to be getting through Intermediate now.'
The momentum didn't exactly carry over for Glynn-Barntown as they let a big lead slip in their opening game against Castletown and then fell by the minimum to St. Anne's in Group A. However, wins against Horeswood and Starlights set up a huge fifth game with the county champions.
'It was important,' Barden admitted. 'We had played a couple of games and we had went into games and were just disappearing out of them. We knew if that happened against the James' we were going to be beaten.'
They came through the clash with a four-point victory. Suddenly they had the look of a dangerous side, one might even say they looked like they were peaking at just the right time. But was there a secret to hitting form when it matters most?
'There's no secret,' Barden said. 'If you start getting a few wins it starts to bring consistency, it starts to bring confidence, and all of a sudden you think you are peaking at the right time.
'I think it's all about winning and competing for the hour, once you're winning and getting results you get on a bit of a roll. You're hoping to peak at the right time but we are hoping now that we haven't peaked too soon!'
Pondering an exemplary performance like the one against St. Martin's and being a little worried is no surprise. That match was a huge test and meant a hell of a lot to the players, Barden explained why:
'I think a lot of our players have been on the receiving end of beatings from the Martin's over the years, from Juvenile, Minor to Under-21. While this is my first year with them, the lads had come out on the wrong end of results when they were involved with the Martin's for a long time. They wanted to stop that and that's what they did.
'They have a lot of ability and a lot of teams are afraid of the Martin's but we weren't on the day anyway.
'We got a bit of luck as well, we got a lucky goal just before half-time and just after half-time we got another goal so I think that was a big help.'
The final will provide a much different examination for his side. While St. Martin's might have been wilting in the late season pressure cooker, Gusserane are going in the opposite direction, as their arrow is well and truly pointing upwards. Barden is fully aware of what his side will face.
'We'll be expecting a totally different game from what the Martin's was,' said the Glynn-Barntown boss. 'Gusserane have the tradition of being footballers and they have footballers, good footballers.
'It's going to be a totally different game again, the only thing you would be hoping for is the weather will be good, it will be a good game of football. Both teams wouldn't be too defensive or anything like that so I'd expect an open, quick, fast game.'
With his selectors - Conor Wickham, Paddy Kehoe and Michael Walsh - Barden might have only been in charge this season but it has been enough time to get a sense of what it would mean to his players if they can get a favourable result on Sunday.
'For the players it's huge. Some lads are seasoned players, it would be huge for them if we could win it. There's lads who are 24, 25 who have won a lot of championships up along but didn't seem to be able to do it in the adult grade so it's going to be huge for them in that respect.
'For the younger fellas who are 19, 20, they probably don't realise how much it means. It would be a huge thing for all of them.'