Leo Barry named as one of state’s greats

By Jamie Lowe

Deniliquin’s Leo Barry has added yet another honour to his storied AFL career, being named as part of the Greatest New South Wales team of all-time at a gala day in Sydney on Thursday last week.

Barry, who played 235 games at the top level with the Sydney Swans — spanning 15 years before retiring in 2009 —was picked at full back for the side.

The former Deniliquin High School student’s name is best known for his screamer in the dying seconds of the 2005 AFL grand final, with the sound bite of commentator Stephen Quartermain’s famous ‘‘Leo Barry, you star!’’ etching his name into AFL folklore.

When talking to the Pastoral Times about his selection earlier this week, Barry said he was proud of the ‘‘huge accomplishment’’.

‘‘I think I can go down as the shortest full back (in history),’’ he said with a laugh.

‘‘I played all my footy in New South Wales from the age of 12 and started my career as a forward but couldn’t get a kick, so the move down back was huge for my footy.

‘‘New South Wales has a long tradition with footy, so to be picked out of a possible 500 to 600 players is something I’m extremely proud of.

‘‘It sits pretty high on the list of accomplishments.

‘‘Another pleasing thing was how well the Riverina was represented, with blokes from Finley, Wagga, Albury and Temora featuring throughout most of the side.

‘‘I was flown up for the day and it was great to be able to catch up with blokes like Paul Kelly and my former reserves coach Dennis Carroll to reminisce on the past.’’

A Deniliquin Rams junior, Barry completed Years 7 to 10 at Deni High before the Swans drafted him in 1994.

He completed his senior high school years boarding at Saint Ignatius College in Riverview.

Barry started his AFL career as a forward, kicking 49 goals in his first 66 games, before coach Rodney Eade sent the young gun to defence as an experiment in 2001.

He quickly emerged as an elite full back, earning two All-Australian selections and spending four years as the Swans’ co-captain during his time as a defender.

In 2011, Barry was inducted into the Sydney Swans’ Hall of Fame.

He is now listed in a team that is littered with AFL greats including North Melbourne champion Wayne Carey, Brownlow medallists Paul Kelly and Shane Crawford and St Kilda Hall of Famer Lenny Hayes.

Crawford is also joined by fellow Finley alumni Tom Hawkins, with the Cats forward named on the interchange bench.

Sydney coach John Longmire joined long-time NSW and former Kangaroos teammate Carey, Essendon premiership skipper Terry Daniher and Saints goalkicking star Bill Mohr, who booted 735 goals from 195 games from 1929-41, in a powerful forward line.

Swans club champions and flag-winners Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack were named in the line-up alongside Hawthorn’s three-time premiership duo Luke Breust and Isaac Smith.

Respected journalist Mike Sheahan and 1988 Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy acted as senior selectors, with footy historians and authors Ian Granland, Rod Gillett and Miles Wilks, AFL NSW/ACT boss Sam Graham and AFL commissioner Gabrielle Trainor rounding out the selection team, with the selectors choosing Allan Jeans and Neale Daniher as co-coaches.