Willie Barrett: An Apology

This website may have previously given the impression that Mr Willie Barrett of Tipperary was an incompetent match official possessing the visual infirmity of Mr Magoo, the backbone of SpongeBob SquarePants and the prejudice towards all things Waterford of Phil Hogan. We now wish to acknowledge that Mr Barrett is in reality one of the greatest heroes on Irish life, a Titan bestriding our land dispensing justice, virtue and self-sacrifice to all he encounters. We regret any previous impression to the contrary.

During the warm-up before Ballygunner’s recent defeat to Na Piarsaigh, there was some manner of pow-wow on the sidelines. A desk, the like of which you usually see used by the staff at polling stations, was set up on the sidelines and . . . not much really happened that I could see. Perhaps it’s a Munster Council requirement like the need to buy your ticket from a van rather than paying at the turnstile. What it was for is not important. What was noteworthy was the presence of Willie Barrett alongside it.

Talk about bringing back memories. It helps that Willie hasn’t aged a day since the fateful time when he came into my consciousness – although it might be an idea to ease up on the Grecian 2000.

And seeing him at Walsh Park Sunday week last, the memories were overwhelmingly filled with guilt. It’s not an exaggeration to say that in the aftermath of the 1998 Munster final he was slandered by almost everyone in County Waterford. He would have been quite within his rights to tell the GAA world to stick their bias and bitterness where the sun don’t shine. And even if he took those low verbal blows in his stride, surely being given a physical beating on the hurling field should have been the last straw.

Yet there he was at Walsh Park on a clammy November afternoon, giving up his day for the GAA. It goes without saying that the association couldn’t function without the likes of Willie Barrett. But sometimes it needs to be said. So Willie, should you happen upon this (avid reader that you are), I’d like to say sorry for the vicious thoughts that I myself harboured towards you during that long hot summer. Long may you continue to be a visible reminder of my embarrassment.

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