Barry O'Brien Memorial
Barry O'Brien - An Appreciation
By Chris O'Grady
News of Barry O'Brien's tragic death in a diving accident in Achill reached me on Hill 16 some minutes before the start of the Dublin v Donegal match. At the back of the Hill after the match scores of Naomh Olaf members gathered as the news spread and the shock and pain completely shut out the joy of seeing Dublin's great win. It was a scene of devestated young people. The loss of a young man who was admired by so many and the thought that his family were now suffering the incalculable loss of a family member for the second time in two months numbed us all.
It is impossible to speak about Barry without being emotional. Barry was a man of unparalleled enthusiasm and passion for any activity he was involved in. This passion was evidenced in the way he applied himself and gave his all down through the years for school, club, college and county in football and more especially in hurling. For us at Naomh Olaf his unique hair-raising roar of "C'mon Olafs" was a trade mark call that would shake any of his hurling or football mates out of their complacency. On the field he gave his last ounce of energy whether the match was championship, league, cup or challenge. Barry did not believe in half measures. Never cowardly, never mean, he personified all that is best in the GAA. His infectious enthusiasm and passion, together with his absolute commitment to fair play, marked him out always as a man of honesty and integrity. These qualities were recognized and recounted by the numerous colleagues, friends and admirers who have paid generous tribute to Barry via the Dublin GAA Official website.
Hi contribution to Naomh Olaf GAA Club was enormous and I can honestly say that no other person of his age has ever contributed as much as Barry has. As a juvenile and minor as well as playing for his own age group he also played for teams well above his age on a very regular basis. Despite the fact that he was in college in the University of Limerick, with whom he won a Fitzgibbon medal this year, he travelled home weekends and even on weekdays to play for his club. He never once complained of burnout, even though he was involved in an incredible number of teams at club, college and county level. Barry played on through the pain barrier many times and paid no attention or sought no sympathy for bloodied knuckles or any other serious injury.
At twenty years of age Barry was coach of the Naomh Olaf hurling team which won the Dublin Feile na nOg competition and went on to perform so well at the national finals in Cork. Barry's devotion to those young hurlers was a joy to behold and they would stand on their heads for Barry if he were to ask them. A few weeks ago Barry ran what were excellently organised, and for the children most enjoyable, summer camps in hurling and football. These children were privileged to have such a brilliant coach as Barry to brighten those first few weeks of their holidays. There seemed to be no limit to his willingness to give his time, his energy and his talents. If it's true that there's more joy in giving than receiving Barry must have been the happiest soul on earth.