FOOTBALL rising star Dom Barry has had his demons.
Now he is one.
The 18-year-old St Patrick’s College student and North Ballarat Rebels player was offered a position with Melbourne Football Club yesterday.
Teachers, coaches and Barry himself all spoke about the transformation he made.
“I had attitude problems which kept me out up until late last year. I was a bit of a cheeky fella.
“I was with the Rebels pre-season for a few years and I wouldn’t even show up to training,” Barry said.
The midfielder/forward – who hails from Alice Springs and has been a boarder at St Pat’s since year 9 – was playing in the college seconds team during year 11, unable to play a game with the firsts because he had failed to dedicate himself to his school work.
“At the end of the year, I had a chat to a few people, including Adam Jennings who told me that they didn’t want to see what I had go to waste,” he said.
So from there, he made the decision to dedicate himself. And he did.
Barry worked hard at football and in school, but even as recently as one week ago he did not realise how far his commitment had taken him.
“No way did I think one week ago that I would be going to play for the AFL next year.
“I was just trying to get uni organised,” Barry said.
After he attended the national AFL Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium last week, his hopes were slightly higher.
“I had good testing results from the combine, which I thought would give me a little bit of a boost.”
He had not previously conversed with the Demons and was zoned to Greater Western Sydney, but in a complicated trading deal was offered the spot along with West Australian Jesse Hogan.
“I went down bright and early to Melbourne and I was pretty confused, I didn’t know what was going on.
“And they didn’t give anything away,” Barry said. “At the end they just said ‘Congratulations, we’d like to have you on board ’.”
North Ballarat Rebels regional manager Phil Partington travelled with Barry to Melbourne yesterday for his meeting with the club and said Barry had a fantastic journey to AFL.
“He’s worked hard to put his name out there to AFL recruiters. Especially in the past year, he has put his hand up to be the best he can possibly be, both as a person and in football,” Partington said.
“It is certainly great for Dom – he now has the opportunity to follow his dreams and play AFL footy.”
St Pat’s first XVIII coach Howard Clarke said he was both proud and excited for the young player.
“I saw Dom when he got back in the morning, he told me that he was going to play for the AFL next year. I got quite emotional,” Clarke said.