Chris Barrett checks out

Photo: Newstalk

On the same day that he was named as an All-Star nominee for the fifth time, Chris Barrett today announced his retirement as an inter-county player. He’s the fifth Mayo player to do so since the start of the year and the official announcement from Mayo GAA is here.

Chris Barrett was another one of the famed Class of 2006, a team that swept to All-Ireland U21 success that year. The bulk of that side then went on to backbone the county’s Senior team over the course of the last decade and more.

Although he’s only 33, Chrissy’s time on the Senior panel stretched to thirteen years. He made 85 appearances in all at Senior level, 47 of them in the Championship and he was in the heart of the action – where he always wanted to be – in the full-back line in the All-Ireland final against Dublin just before Christmas. It was a fitting final stand for a great warrior.

Photo: Sports Joe

The National League game under the lights against Derry at Celtic Park back in February 2008 was when the Belmullet man made his competitive debut for the county. That was quite the evening for first appearances, in fact, with manager John O’Mahony pitching Seamus O’Shea and Tom Parsons into the fray for their first taste of League action then as well.

Chris was plagued with injuries throughout his time as a Senior player and this factor certainly delayed him in making his Championship debut. When he finally did, it was on that fateful day that the county fell to a calamitous first round qualifier defeat to Longford in June 2010. Well, the only way after that was up.

And up we went, with Chris so often to the fore in pushing us ever upwards. He enjoyed some great days in the jersey on big days at Croke Park, defending like a terrier and then bursting forward to augment the attack. No wonder the quiet-spoken Erris man was such a fans’ favourite, which is why too that today’s news will sting supporters so badly.

Two cameos stand out from Chrissy’s time at the top. The first comes from 2013 when, after a barnstorming run to the All-Ireland semi-final, we found ourselves in a bit of a funk late in the first half against Tyrone. Four down and in need of a score, Chris charged forward and let fly from distance, pointing into the Davin end to get us motoring once again. He bagged a second just before the break to leave us well poised to finish the job in the second half.

The second memory will, for me, stay with me as long as I live. That was, of course, the All-Ireland final of 2017 against Dublin when he executed turnover after turnover in a display of ridiculously disciplined tackling. That performance alone made him a deserved shoo-in for an All-Star, which he duly collected later that year.

Photo: Sports Joe

The fact that Chris kept plugging away for the cause year after year was all the more impressive in light of the fact that he was one of the Dublin-based contingent. An eye-opening interview in 2019 with Colm Parkinson for the GAA Hour – which you can listen to here – and an equally candid piece around the same time that Michael McAleer did with him for the Irish Times (here) cast light on the enormity of the commitment that Chris and other inter-county players living away from home had to make to continue following their dreams. As these interviews made clear, it was a commitment that couldn’t continue forever.

Of course it couldn’t but Mayo supporters everywhere will be greatly saddened by today’s news. Chris leaves the scene holding seven Connacht SFC medals as well as a National League medal from 2019, the U21 Celtic cross from 2006 and three U21 Connacht medals.

As he departs the scene, Chris deserves the thanks of all Mayo supporters for the long and sustained commitment he gave to the team and the great days of which he was such an important part. Thanks for all of that, Chris, and the very best wishes to you and your family for the future.

49 thoughts on “Chris Barrett checks out

  1. Too right WJ. Chris was a true defender. Michael Jordan would have trouble dribbling by him. Like you i will never forget all those dispossessions in the 2017 All Ireland. Like a man possessed. Not bad going forward either to boot. Enjoy your free time and thanks for everything Chris!

  2. Another thing about Chris Barrett. A teak tough defender but fair, never dirty. None of the mouthing like that from the likes of philly McMahon or Johnny Cooper. No diving to the ground holding the face like John Small. And a shockingly soft free given against him for the final kick of the game in 2017 courtesy of another diving star in Connolly. All history now but Chris Barrett will be remembered and has left big boots to fill.

  3. Yes. That free given against him in the last minute of the 2017 final was plainly not a foul. Connolly played for it, and the ref bought it. Connolly’s reaction afterwards said it all. I was amazed at the time at how little reference was made to that in the media afterwards.
    Another AIF medal down the Swansea because of poor reffing.

  4. So sad to see Chris Barrett another one from the Class 2006 stalwarts retiring from Mayo football. A great footballer who gave everything for the Mayo cause. His display in the 2017 final will live long in the memory and duly earned him a fully deserved all star. Good luck Chris to you and your family and thank you for the enjoyment you gave to Mayo Gaels all over the globe.
    Delighted to see Maurice Sheridan appointed as U20 manager. He brings a wealth of experience and hopefully as a forward himself he will bring along many top class forward for the senior team for the coming years.
    Best wishes to all for 2021 and keep safe.

  5. Thank you Chris. A fantastic player, a tough but fair defender, no bullshit or sledging, always gave his all for the cause. Also great going forward, his two points against Tyrone in 2013 drove us to victory when we were in a bad spot in the first half. Enjoy your retirement Chris. Looking forward, it’s sad that all these great players are walking away, but if you look at the Young POTY nominees, they are our future, they are the lads that are stepping up to fill the likes of Chris’ boots. In order to evolve, we must change, from what we seen in late 2020 from our young players we are in a good place.

  6. Bohola…you hit the nail on the head. An absolute class act, tough, fair, determined, fearless and a real gem. I’ll miss him greatly but know we are blessed with that brave and beautiful Mayo spirit. Thank you Chris and best wishes for the future. You deserve the very best. Mayo heart never stops beating.

  7. Lovely words all posters. Some slog up and down for training from Dublin. Huge commitment for years and playing with Belmullet too. Remember those matches week after week in qualifiers – how did they do it at all. I will always remember Chris’s display in the 2017 final (and that stupid free at end – the injustice of it). Its such a shame he never got the ultimate prize and it will be very hard to replace Chris. We are losing huge experience.

  8. Outstanding servant to Mayo. We actually missed out on many of his best years due to injury.

    I doubt his defensive display in 2017 will ever be matched. At times I was simply watching him such was the performance that unfolded in front of us.

    A quiet guy who went about his business and got on with things. Could play ball or could knuckle down to a battle. Full back line or out in open space. Any way you needed him.

    Will be missed. Super player.

  9. Disappointed to hear Chris is retiring he will be impossible or at least very hard to replace.best wishes on your retirement Chris you will be missed. With all these retirements James Horan has a huge rebuilding job on his hands time and patience and realistic expectations are required

  10. Sad to hear the Chris is retiring. A friend of his gave me a run down of a “week in the life of Chris Barrett” some time ago, and I was truly shocked. I never realised exactly what was involved when he worked in Dublin, played for Belmullet and was one of the top inter county players for Mayo. We really missed your presence in Clones and Navan earlier last season. He is some man. Many thanks Chris for your hard work, dedication and loyalty, not mention those great days on the road.
    I don’t wish to be negative, but I believe that Division 2 will be a struggle for us. We will need to win 3 league games and we need to hit the ground running. A prerequisite for a good league run is a solid defense. So who do we have that will give us a solid defense. I am having great difficulty with that question at present .

  11. We will definitely miss Chris Barrett. One of the best defenders in the country for a decade. I treasure looking back at that performance in 2017 AIF. But if you want to see the Gaelic football version of Charlie Brown where Tommy Walsh plays Charlie and Chris Barrett plays Lucy ,tormenting him by showing him the ball only to slip away with it every time, then watch the National League Final of 2019 against Kerry.Chris was conceding 5 inches in height to Walsh creating what would usually be a mismatch. Mismatch it was but Chris Barrett has great football intelligence , great focus and vision. He trounced Walsh. Watch it. It’s hilarious. At the end Tommy was looking ( Leroy Brown style ) “like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone”
    Chris will be seriously missed. They don’t make many like him.I always felt that Horan had tremendous respect for him. When fit , he was one of the first names on the team sheet. He represented intelligence , stability , stout defending , vision, best tackling technique in the game , great man marker,and the consummate team player. Chris Barrett is a Mayo great and would be on any Mayo team of any era. My only hope is that he becomes a coach or manager. He would be a stand out.

  12. Sorry to see another one of Legend of mayo football retired Thank Chris TOM David Seamus Donal for the great enjoyment you all give to us down the year you be all badly missed by mayo supporters Thank Lad for the great memories good luck in everything you do in life enjoy you retirement lad

  13. Something about this retirement that really grates. Chris was the one of those than only Mayo fans really appreciated because he was so consistent, dependable and just such a good defender. A big loss at this point and time. But he leaves with a legacy that new defenders can only aspire to be. Each retirement makes the 2017 final harder to take, a great team that day.

  14. Thanks for all the time, efforts and memories, you gave your all at all times, fair, tough, and tenacious a true son of Mayo. You will be missed. Never let us down

  15. Best defender bar none we ever had.
    And in that I include Forde, Mortimer, Cahill any of them the most natural, most do as I do not as I say type man.
    Keeping the “great” Conroy to a point his performance vs Kerry Donegal and Dublins forwards of generations, their greatest players ever our man, marked them without fuss or anything and pushed on and even kicked points.

    The league final break down to himself v Tommy Walsh, the man of the match bar we lost final v Dublin. The go to man against unplayable Conroy, O Neill, Andrew’s, Rock, O Donoghue, Walsh, Galway s Walsh, Tipps top men. You name them
    All he marked them and kept them scoreless or as close as possible

  16. My first comment should have ended “Another AIF down the Suwannee river.” The blessings of God on predictive text. It often makes us sound nonsensical.
    But anyway, i have to say that Chris was one of the best defenders in the country for many years. Look at him above, ripping the ball fairly off Dean Rock with consummate ease. Which of those most deserved an AIF senior county medal?
    It madden’s me. As I say again and again in reference to my point above, those 5 guys should be heading off into the sunset with Senior County AIF Celtic Crosses in their arse pockets … except for some appalling reffing decisions like that one in 2017, which I referenced in my first post here, stopped it happening.
    The Denis Bastick last minute pick off the ground in front of the Dub goals off a short kick and out under intense pressure in the 2016 first match also sticks in the craw. Another AIF gone. To
    Donie, Tom, David, Seamie and Chris should all have at least one AIF medal each. You only have to look at the stats over those years to know that injustice was heaped down on our faithful and brave warriors.
    Our inept Mayo pundits in the Dublin media have never had the cajones to point this out. Are we Mayo people too nice, in the worst possible way? We never kick up a fuss. For instance, we will never have the balls or the money to bring the legal brains of the country to bear on the DRA to get a player off a red card suspension, the day before an AIF.
    Look, I could go on and on. But, I am not apologizing about the rant. We all better believe that our silence about apalling reffing decisions, and nonsensical cowardly administrative decisions, has contributed to those fine players leaving the stage without the ultimate honour they most certainly deserved.
    We are up against the Dublin media, the Dublin crowds filling the GAA coffers, and refs ensuring they dont disturb the apple cart.
    It just enraged me that those superhuman footballers, some of the best ever to grace GAA fields, exiting stage left empty handed.
    My only regret is that it cannot be undone, and the places of those fine players in our GAA history will always have an unjustly missing piece to round off their undoubted contribution.
    Rant over … for now.

  17. The Night the Hombres rode away.

    “Thirteen boxes in one day ” rasped old Langton the undertaker as he gazed to where the Prairie meets the Texas sky. ” Yip “. ” A record by any reckonin and not a Raccoons shit paid for any of them “.

    No man’s Pass had returned to its peaceful self in the intervening years. A small town. The bank, 2 Saloons, the Courthouse, a livery barn, a chapel and a whore house on the edge of town. Enough for the small holdings that stretched out of town, where the women folk got supplies once a week and the men folk drank, gambled, cussed and fought every time they got to town.

    Life was good in no man’s Pass, that was until Tash Cosby the Sheriff locked up one of the Knoxville gang for holding up the bank. That night a dozen of the Knoxville crew had broken their side kick out of the gaol. After a nights whiskey drinking, 2 gunfights and a town in terror, the Sheriff had sent his deputy for back up.

    A sharp whistling gunshot from outside the easy Saloon had gotten the attention of the Knoxville gang. 2 beady eyes peered over the top of the Saloons swinging doors and down on to the street below.

    5 hombres stood 30 paces down the dusty street, thumbs looped on to their gun belts.

    Barrett, the unshaven blocky hombre, standing in the middle of the 5 slowly raised his head, his dark eyes now showing just below the brim of his hat as he locked a stare with the beady eyes looking over the swinging doors.

    Langton the Undertaker can still hear Barrett’s words.

    ” You skunks can mount your horses and wave goodbye.
    But draw your guns and your gonna die “.

    They say that Barrett dropped 6 of the Knoxville crew that night, on the dusty street outside the easy Saloon. All 6 shot in the same place. 4 inches below the chin and between the shoulders. Bang in the middle.

    ” Yip ” rasped old Langton. ” They say Barrett never lost a gunfight, nor a fistfight for that matter “.

    The five hombres mounted their horses. Vaughan, Parsons, Seamie, Clarke and Barrett. They politely tipped their hats to the townsfolk as they slowly rode away.

    Each evening, about dusk, old Langton sits outside and gazes away to where the Prairie meets the Texas sky. He can feel his eyes sting sometimes, that salty sting, as he thinks of men, great men, mighty men, who once rode by.

  18. What a great servant to Mayo. In the words of Bill Shankly he wasn’t born he was quarried

  19. Chris was an absolutely super player for us and he will be sorely missed. Was excellent for us after lockdown and a really calming influence in our youngish defence and as always turned in a solid display in the Final. Like others have said my favourite moments from Chris were his two crucial points v Tyrone in the latter stages of the first half in the AI semi final. And of course his outstanding display v Dublin in 2017 final where he gave as good a display of how to tackle and dispossess an opponent as I have ever seen. What a cruel irony that Rocks winning free came from a foul by Chris ( have always thought it was a soft free). It’s amazing that he made more championship than league appearances for Mayo. I suppose that reflects two things, that when we were in do or die situations Chris was the man to call on and secondly that this fantastic Mayo team played a hell of a lot of championship matches in the last ten years. Enjoy your retirement Chris.

  20. He comes from stock that work hard labour with their hands. It made him very effective in the tackle. Look at the size of the sinews in his forearms in the tackle picture above. I like defenders to have that life time of labour natural strength in the arms.
    Willie Joe thanks for being the only outlet to get his age correct as 33 not 34.

  21. Best of luck to Chris and the other players that retired unbelievable servants to the Mayo cause. I have not commented on this site for a long time as I am not a Mayo person but married to a Mayo woman and would always support you guys.

    I read this blog most weeks and I know it is not easy to do but blaming refs decisions for losing is not good for the mind.

    I appreciate that Dublin have got the run of the green on some occasions but that is sport. Looking back on all their encounters I could easily pick out a number of soft Mayo calls e.g Mayo penalty award in 2015 drawn semi final was 100% not a penalty.

    It was not the referee that made Donie Vaughan made the rash challenge, CIllan missing the frees. Lee kicking the ball into the keepers hands or Goalkeeper errors.

    My point is on field decisions and mistakes have way more influence on a match than any referee. Best of luck in 2021.

  22. All the best to Chris, an absolute colossus of a defender.
    This is the one retirement I was absolutely dreading, but was expecting. Moving club to Clontarf was a sure sign that he would be finishing up with Mayo.
    As a fellow Erris man, he was always a particular favourite. But as others have mentioned above, he was also one of the cleanest defenders in the game. Absolutely no dirt or slyness in his play, just honest (but incredibly tough) defending. There’ll be a fair few inter-county forwards who will be glad they won’t be on the receiving end of a hit from his granite like frame again.
    2017 obviously stands out. Despite it being such a close and exciting game, I found myself watching Chris nearly half of the time. An incredible performance.

    We really need Higgins and Boyle to give it another year now. Losing 5 is tough, but we can’t afford to lose any more experience from our back line.

  23. My God!
    There will never be a defender like Mr Barrett. We in Mayo have had some of the best defenders the game has ever seen (fact). The man just a touch above them all is Chris. Everything said above about him is so true.
    Enjoy your retirement, and Thanks for the memories.
    Mayo forever

  24. I think the best of our u20s, u19s and u18s are in defence so I’m not too worried about our conveyor belt of young defenders coming through.

  25. Happy retirement Chris. What a player. Defenders like him don’t come along every year. He gave it everything. @mayohusband. I agree with you but some posters refuse to say lay any of the blame on our own players and the ref is the easy target. In the 2017 final. After Dean Rock hit over that free. We kicked the resulting kick out over the sideline. Barret in particular was screaming for the ball to be kicked short and there wouldn’t be a safer pair of hands to bring it up the field. Safer to blame the ref though.

  26. Chris is irreplaceable in many ways, as an out and out defender especially, as most have said his likes don’t come around too often.
    When I see Eoin O’Donoghue though he has a lot of the same attributes as his clubman,especially that aggression in the tackle. I think he can have a big future with mayo, if given the chance.

  27. AS I said in a previous post Chris’ retirement is the saddest as he showed last year that he had loads more football to play but there is only so much you can give regards commitment. He has to rank in the very top tier of all time Mayo defenders, right up there alongside the famed Sean Flanagan.
    Remarkably only two of that Mayo 2006 U21 team did not play senior for an extended time. And then you add sub Enda Varley. I doubt if any underage team anywhere made such a contribution. I hope that when this Covid business is put to bed Mayo Co Board organise a function to honour the recent retirees in particular but include all those retired who played a part in our 2011 to 2020 odyssey. I am not normally one for social functions but this would be one I would not miss for “all the tea in China”

  28. Really tough now to have an organised defence ahead of the League with the departure of Clarkie and Chris.Chris will be a huge loss, one of our best ever defenders. But with Clarkie gone as well, our full back line is depleted. Its probably just as well that we are in Division 2 as we would have been in the group of death with almost certain relegation. Surely we can win at least 2 games and get into the semi finals. Best wishes to Chris. Enjoy your retirement.

  29. Best wishes Chris. You can be proud of your Mayo career. You owe us nothing. Arguably the physically strongest Mayo player ever. Did it consistently on the big day. The turn-over maestro. Drove the team on when our backs were to the wall, ie those points v Tyrone that we all remember. I was always happy seeing him on the field of play.

    He’d certainly have made the starting 15 this year but I guess the commuting again would be too much. He’d be a perfect sub to bring on too of course, but its not to be.

    Any more retirements and we’re in serious trouble. We need Keith and Boyler to remain, but James needs to introduce them in every match in championship. If they stay.

  30. Thank you, Chris Barrett. You were a joy to watch play and we were privileged to have such a safe pair of hands.
    I feel sad at this retirement and it’s true it hits more than the others because it was unexpected (to me anyway). We’ll miss Chris a lot. I’m glad we have two more Belmullet men on the panel in Eoin O’Donoghue and Ryan O’Donoghue.
    I’m a bit lost for more words. All the very best to Chris and family in all they do.

  31. Buladh bós mór dhuit Claremorris 1951.
    Correct and right in every single one of your posts. There are people in our county who would rather we roll over everytime to have our bellies tickled or blame our own in the heat of battle than state or accept the facts. I got tired of being a great loser having the craic with winning fans a long time ago and started seeing the injustices for what they were. No issues with losing fair and square as has happened on plenty of occasions also.
    Chris was a man of granite and my favourite performance from him was that against T. Walsh in league final, although the ’17 performance was something else no doubt about it. I wont say his boots wont be filled as it would be impossible and hopefully we’ll have a new CB whose ability we’ll come to appreciate also.

  32. I haven’t been able to comment here for a while and to wish the lads who retired well in their retirement. It goes without saying all five were great servants to Mayo. They and their team mates raised our status as a footballing county to a very high level making us more than proud to be identified as Mayo. They will long be remembered and talked about in every corner of the County and wherever Mayo people gather in many parts of the world.
    They have given me years of enjoyment, excitement and adventure. Thanks lads. You are a very special bunch of men.

  33. Did I read somewhere that Beibeann Parsons is Tom’s first cousin also???Mayo well represented.

  34. Yes, Chris Barrett time in the Green and Red, was something else… One of the toughest, tightest, bravest defender, and best defender any County team could ever dream of..Had his injury problems down the years during his time with Mayo, anytime the news came through that Chris was good to go, our worries as Mayo fans decreased… Want to wish Chris, who as Willie Joe says was nominated for an All Star the day of the retirement announcement….On the All Stars nominations, I’m very disappointed that Stephen Coen was not nominated, easily had to be in Mayo’s top five performers in both league and championship in 2020, I can’t really remember him making a single big mistake all of the year, and I think that he was playing virtually all of the time.

  35. Chris is one of those players who you didn’t quite know how he was putting dangerous opponents in his pocket for most of the game sometimes conceding a lot of height and not our fastest defender either. Has to be his overall reading of the game and he was in superb shape for a guy not that naturally big. Put in a massive effort for Mayo. A great servant.

  36. Huge thanks to Chris and all the Mayo retirees. Such resilient competitors. Can’t imagine the commitment and sacrifice involved by these people and their families. Hopefully their vast experience can be harnessed in some way to help the new generation over the line.

  37. A huge thanks to Chris for all his efforts and dedication over the years. One of my favourite players – quietly effective in almost everything he did. The much used term “teak tough” was invented for him. Enjoy your retirement from the inter county scene. Hopefully this is the last of the announcements…

  38. Massive point those by Chris against Tyrone (another superb bio WJ). It’s a reminder that, good as our newbies have been this year, they haven’t scored an awful lot. This needs to be looked at. Think Chris, Tom Cunniffe, Boyler, Donie V., Keith and the scoring options they gave us over the years.

    I want to see Oisin, Eoin Mac, James MacCormack, and Ryan O’D stringing over the points as the league and championship progress.

  39. Hello, I note Andy Moran mention David McBrien as a good prospect for Mayo. He played in the League v Galway.

    I also noted the League might not be played this year with the suggestion that it would suit Mayo? – more time to find replacements to bed- in or ‘wouldn”t be entirely discomoded by this” per Daily Mail (Shane Mc Grath).

  40. Great and well deserved comments above. One of the best Mayo heroes of all time. Best of luck to you and yours for the future.
    One hope I have, that you pass on your amazing defensive skills to your successors.
    Even to be present at a few coaching sessions would be inspirational and should be arranged. You’ve done so much for Mayo, I fell sure you’d be Happy to be asked.
    Thank you agus go neighaire an tagh leat.
    Up Mayo.

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