Donegal are raising the Barr

John Sisk & Son’s Business Development Manager for Northern Ireland, Mark Barr, will be in Croke Park on Sunday to cheer on Donegal as they bid to bring home Sam Maguire for the first time since 1992.

A native of Burt, who retained their Donegal SHC title courtesy of a 3-14 to 1-12 victory over Sean MacCumhaills in Letterkenny last Saturday, Mark is enjoying the build-up to Sunday’s big showdown with Mayo, and is quietly confident that Jim McGuinness’ men can emulate the feat of Brian McEniff’s heroes 20 years ago.

“Jim has done a fantastic job with this team. The progress they’ve made over the last two years has been huge,” he proudly states.

“What makes this Donegal team different from those we’ve seen in the past is that they are both mentally and physically strong. I think it’s the first time any Donegal manager has managed to marry the two. Not only are they supremely fit, they also have a winning mentality and huge self-belief. Donegal always had the core ingredients, but they were lacking in other areas until Jim became manager. They are highly motivated and don’t fear anyone.”

Mark has been especially impressed by how Donegal have developed and added to their game plan since last year when they were criticised for being overly defensive.

“They’ve been able to bring all parts of their game to a higher level this year. They still get a lot of men behind the ball, but are able to attack at pace now. They’ve been scoring much more freely than last year and deserve to win an All-Ireland for all the work they’ve put in. They’ve already taken the scalps of Tyrone, Kerry and Cork this year, and I’m hopeful that they will be able to finish the job against Mayo.”

Mark has also been impressed by Mayo, and feels that Donegal will need to be at their best to beat them.

“It’ll be a tough game for Donegal because Mayo have progressed as well. They’ve improved with every game since the Connacht final and played some great football in the semi-final against Dublin. Donegal have the beating of them, but it’ll be close. They’re huge pride in both counties and they could have sold out Croke Park twice over. Whoever wins it will be celebrating for months to come,” he adds.

Mark played GAA during his school days, but his family is more associated with cycling and motor sport. His brother Joe won bronze medals in cycling at the Commonwealth Games in 1986 and 1990 and more recently the endurance race around Ireland, while his 11-year-old son Reece is making a name for himself in karting with his team RB Motorsport.

Mark joined construction giants Sisk in 2007 to re-establish the company’s business centre in Northern Ireland. Sisk had operated in Belfast back in the 1970s, but its interest in the North had waned before Mark – whose background is in project management – set about reversing that trend.
“It was a big challenge to break back into Northern Ireland market,” he recalls. “It is equally as competitive as the southern market and very relationship driven. even if the project scale isn’t quite as big. We’ve made good headway and have won major contracts such as the Bombardier Aerospace production facility in Belfast, Seagate Technology in Derry, Belfast Harbour, and the NYSE Headquarters in Belfast. Northern Ireland is now an important market for Sisk contributing to a regional turnover of over £100 million per annum and rising.”

John Sisk & Son and its associated companies have been involved in major infrastructure development since the 1950s, building many of Ireland’s roads, bridges, power stations, airports and harbours. It has also been responsible for the redevelopment of Croke Park and Lansdowne Road (Aviva Stadium).

The company, which was established by John Sisk in Cork in 1859, operates as an international integrated business with current projects in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and Poland. John Sisk & Son undertakes works in a mix of traditional, joint venture and public-private partnership formats – including Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) projects, which enhance the delivery and cost effectiveness of the finished scheme.

Sisk will be bidding to win the £76.4 contract to redevelop Casement Park in Belfast into a 40,000 all-seater stadium. The work on the home of Antrim GAA is expected to last for 21 months and be completed by 2015. A formal application for planning permission will be submitted by the end of March 2013.

“We will be bringing our strengths as an Irish Stadia builder to the table in our bid to secure this prestigious contract,” Mark concludes.