While last weekend was bitterly disappointing for the Longford minor and senior football teams, there was something to celebrate as the legendary Dessie Barry was inducted into the Leinster GAA Gaelic Greats Football Hall of Fame at Croke Park during the Leinster Final double bill on Sunday.
Dessie, accompanied by his wife Fionnuala and daughters Jessica, Rachel and Adi, was presented with his award by Leinster GAA Chairperson John Horan.
An exceptionally skilful player, Dessie was Longford’s biggest star during the 1980’s and 1990’s, lining out with the county from 1982 to 2000, and in 1990 he represented Ireland, managed by Eugene McGee, in the International Rules series.
He also won a Railway Cup medal with Leinster in 1988. Leinster defeated Ulster by 2-9 to 0-12 in that final at Ballina, with Dessie, who was joined in the full forward line by Brian Stafford (Meath) and Peter Brady (Offaly), scoring 2-2. He also lined out with province on two further occasions in the Railway Cup.
He was nominated for an All Star award on three occasions, but a place on the final selection eluded him. However, he was chosen as an All Star replacement in 1988 and toured America, playing in a game in San Francisco.
Dessie won six Longford senior football championship medals - his first as a 17-year-old, with Longford Slashers in 1979, ‘80, ’89, ’90, ’91 and ’94. He was man of the match in each of the finals from 1989 - ‘91 and was also selected on the Longford Team of the Millennium.
After he retired in 2001, Dessie managed Slashers for a number of years, before going on to guide Strokestown to a Roscommon Division 1 League title and Gortletteragh to intermediate championship and league success in Leitrim.
A sports all-rounder, Dessie juggled his gaelic football career with that of soccer for many years. He played left full back for Longford Town on numerous occasions in the League of Ireland and also figured on the team which lost to Derry City in the FAI Cup semi-final in 1988.
Speaking at a reception on Sunday, that was attended by Dessie’s family, Longford GAA Chairperson Brendan Gilmore and GAA Trustee, Mostrim’s John Greene, Leinster Chairperson John Horan remarked, “Dessie Barry has given exceptional service to Longford GAA at all levels. A true sportsman, a gentleman, on and off the field, I welcome him to the Leinster GAA Greats Hall of Fame.”