Gaelic football, that memorable debut and not being shy – Barry Cotter

PUBLISHED: 17:34 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 04 May 2018

Barry Cotter produced a man-of-the-match display on his Ipswich Town debut. Photo: Steve Waller

Barry Cotter produced a man-of-the-match display on his Ipswich Town debut. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Barry Cotter admits he doesn’t lack for confidence and fully intends to make a name for himself at Ipswich Town.

Cotter's only other first team appearance for the Blues came as a late substitute in last weekend's 4-0 win at Reading. Photo: Steve WallerCotter's only other first team appearance for the Blues came as a late substitute in last weekend's 4-0 win at Reading. Photo: Steve Waller

The 19-year-old right-back was signed from Irish side Limerick for £50k in January and produced a man-of-the-match debut display in what proved to be Mick McCarthy’s last game in charge – the 1-0 home win against Barnsley last month.

Blessed with the gift of gab, the teenager who hails from County Clare was straight on the pitch after that game to take the adulation of the crowd and is already a vocal presence about the training ground.

Explaining his journey, he said: “I used to box a bit and I was big into the GAA, the Gaelic Athletic Association, with hurling and (Gaelic) football. I was always more into football – I didn’t like getting hit with that stick!

“I’d played for some local clubs and then went for an open trial at Limerick where I was successful. I ended up leaving school so I could focus 100 per cent on my football and I guess it has paid off a small bit, getting this far.

Barry Cotter could replace the injured Jordan Spence in the Town team for Sunday's season-finale against Middlesbrough at Portman Road. Photo: ITFCBarry Cotter could replace the injured Jordan Spence in the Town team for Sunday's season-finale against Middlesbrough at Portman Road. Photo: ITFC

“It was always my aim to earn my big chance over here in England. Back home they love a kid who wants to drive on and push forward. If you talked to my old coaches they wouldn’t say I was the shy type!

“I was at them all the time about doing extra work and asking what else I could do to improve and make me better.”

Cotter came over to England for trials with Ipswich and Brentford, saying: “As soon as I walked through those gates I knew I wanted to stay.

“Since day one the boys have been absolutely A1 with me. It has helped to give me the confidence to go and express myself and earn these chances in the first team. I’ve only been here for a few months but it feels like ages, like a year or two, and I don’t want the season to end.”

Recalling his debut, he said: “It has to be up there with one of the best days of my life and I must give huge respect to Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor for giving me a debut in what was their last game in charge.

“To take a risk like that on their last day, well, I show them huge respect for putting their trust in me like that and giving me a chance on such a big stage.

“Also, the way Mick took care of me, taking me off when he did. I was absolutely blowing by then, no legs left, and he could see what had to be done.

“It was unfortunate and I could see where the fans were coming from (when booing the decision) because they obviously wanted to see me stay on but I had to come off, so huge respect to the gaffer and TC for that.

“The gaffer had said to me ‘it’s your debut, just go and enjoy it’. I wanted to show everyone that was watching the player that I can be. So I went out and did just that, I enjoyed myself. I tried to make it my own, and that’s exactly what I did, I guess.”

Asked how he’s found the step-up to Championship level, Cotter – whose only other appearance has been as a late substitute in last weekend’s 4-0 win at Reading due to a minor knee problem – replied: “It was quite hard, starting off, to be honest. I came from a really physical league in Ireland and over here, technically and ability wise, it’s just sky high in comparison.

“The coaches, Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg, took care of me big-time when I first came over, teaching me the ropes and giving me one-on-one time when I needed it, as well as giving me extra work here and there.”

Cotter, who used to work part-time as a hotel porter and in a sports shop, added: “I’m so hungry and I just want to keep on working and improving. I want to be the fittest player in the country. Being involved, getting tested every second for 90 minutes, it’s unbelievable. It’s so enjoyable too.

“I’m a young man and this could go anywhere. It’s a bit too early to call but I’m part of the furniture, here for the next three years. I’ll just be happy to start getting a few minutes, consistently, next season. I’ll be over the moon with that.

“I’m over here on my own and my family are all back in Ireland. I live with Aaron Drinan, but there’s Harry Wright, Corrie Ndaba, Conor McKendry, Shane McLoughlin, I could go on and on.

“I’m friends with them all and I would never pick one that’s been better than another because they have all been brilliant. It’s a tight circle and they’re my family here. And there’s good old Alan Lee as well!”

“I hope to end the season on a high and start next season on a high too. As far as I’m concerned, the sky’s the limit. It’s so exciting to be a part of this new era at the club. No matter who the new manager is, I’m just going to do my best to try to impress him.”

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