Paddy Barrett. The Cincinnati Kid

Matt Keane Reports

Despite being only 24 years old, Larchville native Paddy Barrett has enjoyed an amazing life in the world of football and in January he will begin yet another chapter in his glittering career.
He began playing football with St Paul’s and Southend United before heading off to Aberdeen.
Unable to settle there he returned home to play with Waterford United before heading back to Scotland and linking up with Dundee United.
Another stint with the Blues followed before he headed west to play with Galway United. Stephen Kenny then took him to Oriel Park and he played a major role as Dundalk brought the League of Ireland to new heights in European football.

Paddy Barrett , who is heading stateside in January to play with FC Cincinnati

Paddy Barrett , who is heading stateside in January to play with FC Cincinnati

In June of this year he returned on loan to Waterford FC and he was a pivotal member of the squad which won the First Division League and brought the club back into the Premier League for the first time in ten years.
Two weeks ago he decided to move once again, following his release by Dundalk and it would be fair to say he was not short of offers.
Barrett will now head to Ohio early in the new year to play for FC Cincinnati in the United States Soccer League. Never afraid of a new challenge, Paddy is biting at the bit to get to America and start with his new club and last week he sat down to talk about the new chapter in his life. “I have enjoyed playing with Dundalk and Waterford FC recently and thankfully both clubs were successful but when this offer came up I just couldn’t turn it down. They had seen me play with Dundalk and the manager rang me and asked if he could meet me in Dublin.

I was excited about what he had to say. I spoke with Ciaran Kilduff, who I played with at Dundalk. He is currently playing with Jacksonville and loves it out there.”
Barrett had been contacted by other teams about a possible move to the US but he was impressed with Cincinnati manager Alan Koch, who spent a year coaching with Limerick.
“Alan Koch is from South Africa and knows a lot about the players playing in the League of Ireland. He is still clued in about what is happening here in Ireland. During the past two seasons Dundalk have put the League of Ireland on the map and our displays in the Champions League and Europa League brought a lot of players into the limelight. Alan mentioned a lot of players to me and I was delighted that I was one of the players he wanted. Soccer in America is really getting bigger and bigger and that’s why so many players are heading there right now. That was not the case some years ago but it’s a completely different story now.”
FC Cincinnati have sold 20,000 season tickets for the up-coming campaign. The club boasted crowds in excess of 17,000 last season, a fair achievement considering the club are not yet playing in the MLS (Major League Soccer).

The club is only two years old and they play in the United Soccer League but they hope to be playing in the MLS in a year or two. The step up to the MLS is based on attendances and from a financial base and there is no doubt that Cincinnati FC are well on track to reach the criteria required.
Barrett will be one of a number of new players who will arrive in Ohio in January and he explained why he feels that will be a good for him. “The manager has kept only nine players from last seasons’ squad and he has to bring the new squad up to twenty four players which means that fifteen of us will be arriving together. We will have to get to know each other and I feel that is good because I won’t be going into a setup where everyone knows each other because sometimes it can be difficult for a new player to be welcomed by guys who have been playing together for a long time. We will have to help each other and it’s something I am looking forward to.”
Barrett then looked back with fondness at his life in the beautiful game and he admitted he has been a very lucky man. “Yea ! The last few seasons have been amazing and If you told me a few years ago that I would have won every possible honour in the game here in Ireland I would have told you that you are mad. I played with the greatest team ever to grace the League of Ireland and I will always be so grateful to the Dundalk Football Club. I have been a professional footballer now for nine years because I was only 15 years old when I left Waterford to go to Aberdeen.

“The amount of teams I have played for during that time and the places I have seen is beyond belief and now I am off on another part of the world to do something I love. I have agreed a one year contract with FC Cincinnati with the option of a second year which is great because it gives both sides breathing space at the end of the season. I am only 24 years old and if I did return I would still be young because central defenders in general are in their prime at the age of 28 years. Who knows what will happen? I may never come back again. I have never been to America so I think it would be fair to say that I am diving off the high board into the deep end of the pool but I believe I can swim my way out of trouble. I have done that in the past.”
Since it was announced that Paddy will be heading stateside two weeks ago he has been bowled over by the messages he has received from hundreds of people. “It’s been incredible. I have received best wishes from people I had lost touch with in recent years. Former managers at St Paul’s, Southend, Galway United and Dundee United have been on to me. Even lads I played with on the Kennedy Cup team when I played for Waterford at U14 have touched base with me on twitter, facebook and the other social media outlets. Three of those people now live and work in America. I played with Cliff Kearney when I was with Southend and he is working in Florida. Chris Kervick was on that Kennedy Cup team and he is in the USA as is Patrick Fitzgerald who I played with at Waterford United during my first stint with the club.

All three lads have suggested that we meet up for a coffee and a chat when I settle in which is wonderful. Messages like that from lads from Waterford just goes to show how friendships can last forever whatever the time gap and distance” concluded the affable Paddy. His new club are nicknamed ‘FC Cincy’ and there is no doubt whatsoever that they are getting a top class player who will give his all when the new season gets underway. He is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family before diving off the high board as he said himself. No better man and we here in Waterford will certainly be keeping tabs on our very own Cincinnati Kid’.

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