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Having A Chat... Barry McCabe

Baz had a chat before Friday's cup game with Derry City

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20-year-old Barry McCabe made his second Airtricity League start last Friday as UCD made it two wins from two with an impressive 3-1 victory over Cork City and the midfielder spoke to ucdsoccer.com’s Ryan Bailey ahead of this evening’s cup clash with Derry.

The Galway native is part of the highly successful UCD scholarship programme and has come through the ranks at Belfield as he looks to establish himself as a first team regular. McCabe began his footballing career with local side Salthill Devon at the age of just four before being snapped up by the Students shortly after he completed his Leaving Cert at the age of 17.

“We had a very successful team at Salthill and it was a great time for me. We made three consecutive all-Ireland finals but lost them all. I loved playing for them because the team was full of my best mates and most of us lived beside each other too.” Baz_4

Barry’s performances for the Galway side attracted the attention of Martin Russell and during the summer of 2009, he was invited to Belfield to take part in trials for the scholarship programme but he wasn’t confident of securing a place:

“I thought I did well during the trials but was really unsure if I was to be successful because of the talent that I was competing with.” McCabe admitted.

After being offered a coveted place on the scholarship programme, the midfielder had to pack up and move to the capital at the age of just 17 and inevitably it was tough:

“I found it tough at the start trying to balance training, college and living on your own. And for the first year I was off the pace with the football. I started to get more into it after that, playing in the “A” championship and Under 20 teams a bit more regularly. I do miss home, and only get home around once a month but I have family here and I talk to my Mum most days, normally asking how to cook or wash something!”

The highly regarded scholarship programme combines study and elite sport with the players given access to top class facilities both on and off the pitch. Other first team players involved include Robbie Benson, Cillian Morrison, David O’Connor and John Kelly among others.

“I study Health and Performance Science (Sports Science) and really enjoy combining both even though it can get tough when work builds up. But I started to get into a good routine last year and that’s the key in balancing both. I didn’t like the course at the start, but really got into it last year and now I love it. I’m not yet set on what I would like to do but I think I may go on and do a Masters, in Physio or Dietetics possibly.” McCabe explained.

The programme includes the players being given the best fitness and dietary advice as well as splitting their time between gym work and on pitch training.

“We have three pitch sessions a week and I’d normally do 2 sessions with George Pekatros in the gym focusing mainly on power and speed. I worked hard in pre-season to get fit and I do feel fitter than I had been in a while but the match intensity is so high on a Friday night, I was struggling after 65 minutes last week. But hopefully some more game time will fix that!”

The diet of sportsmen and women is more important than ever and at UCD the players are looked after when it comes to food and nutrition as Barry explained:

“I love my grub, even though it might not look it! I’d like to think I eat well but getting as much good carbohydrates in as I can for energy for training is very important. But sometimes it is hard to maintain that because of the cost and sometimes avoiding the easy option like a pizza (David O’Connor) is tough.”

Baz_1After a slow start to his footballing career on campus, the 20-year-old was a key part of UCD’s “A Championship” winning side of 2009/2010 and has now become a regular member of the first team squad but with the likes of Paul O’Conor and Paul Corry ahead of him in the pecking order, Barry admits it’s been tough to break into the side but is targeting more games before the season is out:

“Yeah of course I hope for more starts but I understand I’ve two talented lads ahead of me at the moment and just got to do really well when I do get in, which I probably haven’t done yet to be fair. But I’m only 20, I’m still learning and I hope I can push on from here and play more and aim to be regular come the start of next season.

Despite suffering defeat on Monday away to league leaders Sligo Rovers, The Students remain one point ahead of Dundalk and McCabe is confident the club can finish the season strongly and avoid relegation:

“Yes, I definitely think so. I believe that the lads have had that taste of victory again after being without it for so long, realised what it takes and I think this will push us on more between now and end of season”

On a personal level, Barry hopes he can continue to improve and see where that takes him.

“My aims are to be playing here regularly and to keep improving and see how far I can go. I want to finish my last year in college with a good degree too and see what happens then”

    FACTFILE                                                                                                                                                 

Age?

20

DOB?

12/01/1992

Height?

5'10

Weight?

11 stone

Boots?

Preds

Boot size?

8

Fav LOI ground?

Terryland Park

Squad number? 18

Previous Club?

Salthill Devon

Twitter? @baz_mc

THIS OR THAT

Cereal or Toast?

Cereal

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Shower

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Nandos

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Jeans

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Barca

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Talk

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Knife

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