Interview, Interviews, Ultimate Frisbee

BOKA, Barry O’Kane interviewed, GB legend from Limavady

By Simon Cocking, great interview with long time playing Ultimate legend Barry O’Kane. We first played with and against him around 1993/94, as fellow students, for Leed’s Uni’s Catch22 against Edinburgh’s Ultimate Team. He was always a great, intense, but easy going kinda guy. He then helped Irish Ultimate in the early days twice over. Initially by playing in the first ever Irish Ultimate frisbee tournament in March 1996 -> the first Dublin Open. He then also came through on his commitment to play for an Irish International team as and when we finally got a team together. This happened in 2000 when Barry played for the inaugural Irish Mixed team in the Heilbronn World Championships. After that Barry then went on to continue to have a fantastic playing career for GB and at club level. Here’s our interview with him.

What did you play before ultimate? 

Rugby was my main sport at School.  Though I also played a bit of Gaelic when I was very young and also enjoyed orienteering over the years.  After discovering Ultimate though I slowly became just an infrequent social participant in other sports.

Limavady! There were a few of you from there that played – did that help? What happened to them? How long did they play for? 

Yeah, there was a couple of good friends from Limavady who got really into Ultimate too. Stu & I played a lot in the Uni teams and later Vicky, Russel and Martin got really hooked. My (now) brother in law Declan also played for several years.  I think that had more to do with us all being in Edinburgh than any thing else though.

As far as I know Martin still plays in Singapore from time to time, but I think he’s the only one with that level of stamina 😉

If I remember right, your sister was at TCD, and briefly played with us for the initial TCD team ? 


What did you make of the early Dublin scene? (I remember you and I having trouble getting any/ many of them to show up for the 2nd day of the Dublin tournament. 

Yeah, I remember the party shenanigans being a bigger deal than the on pitch activities.  Though, to be honest I was never disappointed in that!  A lot of the guys I met back then went on to become major players (both on and off the pitch) – so I guess it was the ideal way to start a club.

Scotland! What inspired you to start playing at Edinburgh, and then keep playing? 

I was too small for high level Uni rugby, and I stumbled on Ultimate when a friend dragged me along. It wasn’t until my second year that I really started getting into it though. Then I was lucky enough to join Sneeekys at Worlds in Street in ’95.  That really opened my eyes to what was possible for this sport, took me 15 years to miss another Worlds, I think.

Sneeekys! Great team, did you enjoy playing for them? There was an early worlds / clubs when you played for a team that came last did that help you in your subsequent summer worlds tournaments? 

Totally, though I think we came 2nd last, maybe.

You then played for Catch 22 a little? Was it good to play for better teams / to get better / as they got better too? 

Yeah, that’s when I started to play at a higher level and contribute usefully. Great bunch of guys, shame they had only 5 gags between them…

Ireland 2000 mixed team, you were part of the key hub of the team with Dec Moore – what was it like with Mikey’s more relaxed captaincy style? 

I have fond memories of that team and that tournament. A truly wonderful group of players.  I was still young enough to party really hard and run in the morning.  Declan was an inspiration and it was especially fun to play with him.  Though I do remember him getting pretty angry after some silly throwing decision I made – but then forgiving me when he realised I was still drunk from the night before.

And then what was good about that first Irish mixed team, and what, if anything was frustrating? 

It was a very inexperienced team and that could have been frustrating, but they were such a great bunch and everyone really improved over the season – so I found the experience thoroughly enjoyable.

Then over 2000’s you played for successful GB mixed teams, what were you doing right? 

Personally I suspect I was doing very little right, other than staying in shape and not throwing away too much!  I was lucky enough to lead some truly outstanding teams and play with so many great players.  The dedication, passion and talent that they brought is what made it so much fun, and gave us some success.

GB has got better and better over the last 20 years? Why do you think this has been? 

There is not one single reason.  Unless you count all the people who have given their spare time and energy to the sport over the years as one reason.  Those people have worked tirelessly to improve the organisation structure, competitive & club set up; along side the training, coaching and on pitch leadership to where we are now.  There is still a long way to go, but it is inspirational to see the numbers of talented, young athletes now playing and the strength of the leadership across the board today.

Irish Ultimate has also really impressed me over the years.  The transformation since those early days when only a handful of folk really knew how to play, and there was no organisation, is outstanding!

Club ultimate what has been your highlights? 

Too many to list, or even remember! Sneeekys at Edinburgh Uni with captain Irish Stu, Catch 22 in Vancouver and Rimini, Dough Boy when I was in London, LeedsLeedsLeeds in Hawaii and Australia, various Aussie teams when I was there, I could go on for ever… but the glory years of Fusion is probably my favourite, because training and winning with a Scottish team was just cool.

You’ve also been heavily involved in the admin side of BUF (whatever it’s called now) , what things did you do that worked / what didn’t / anything to do differently?

BUF, BFDF, UKU and UKUA covers some of the acronyms I have been involved with over the years. There was lots of things that we did that helped the sport grow and mature in the UK. Each small change is a step on the journey to building a larger, stronger organisation that can both grow and protect our unique sport. That process never ends, of course, and the current staff and Board continue to lead the way.

If I was to pick one thing that contributed most I was say when we were lucky enough to employ a full time CEO (Si Hill).  The lucky part was that we thought it would be many more years before the organisation could afford someone of his caliber as CEO and he was fooled into taking the administrator position.  From that point he has been the key stone on which a real sporting organisation has been built.

Favourite players you watched / played with and why? 

Anyone who had fun and worked hard!

GB now ranked #3 in the world for ultimate, fantastic – can it go any higher? If so, how / why? 

Yes, but first GB/UK has to walk the tightrope of growing the base of Ultimate while not taking focus away from improving the top.

I’ll be there shouting, waving my zimmer at anyone who slacks off and trying not to spill too much beer.

Canon PowerShot, Cape Clear, Photography, Sea

Filming in dark sea caves, Cape Clear

By @SimonCocking. Filmed using Canon PowerShot D30. Gearing up to bigger filming projects later this year, this was our first time out in the water in a while. We tried to capture how dark and far back this cave goes, and also how close the over head rocks are. A challenge of course because it gets darker the further back we went. Enjoy!

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Canon, Canon G5X, Cork, West Cork, Photography, Digital Photography, Ireland, Photography, photos, West Cork

Cape Clear February light

By @SimonCocking, using Canon G5X, comments at the end

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It’s an interesting camera to use. It does seem to be able to capture some good pictures, with some interesting tech going on in the background to compensate for the glare of the sun. Tried to make it take pictures in lots of challenging light scenarios. Sun shining behind, low winter sun, contrast of dark and light. Pretty user friendly too, most people are able to pick it up and start taking decent pictures very quickly – as is probably the intention with it being positioned as a bridge camera.

One slight design flaw that could become a problem the longer you use it is that the locking mechanism that hold the memory card and battery has opened itself on several occasions already. This could be a real pain as it gets used more if the battery or card holder became less stiff.

Overall it’s an interesting camera to be trialing.




Canon G5X, Cork, West Cork, Photography, Photography, West Cork

February rocks in West Cork

By @SimonCocking using Canon G5X, first impressions at the end.

IMG_3742 IMG_3772 IMG_3775 IMG_3782 IMG_3852 IMG_3874 IMG_3981 Camera is easy to use, light, takes good pictures, though hard to really verify this at the time. So you have to point and shoot a little, hope for the best and then have a proper look on a big screen when you upload it to a pc / laptop etc. The zoom is great, it can really hone in on things a long distance away. The results look pretty good too, not noticeably pixellated. The picture of rocks across the water was taken with the zoom, and it looks pretty good.

Still working it out, but for a first point of access it’s pretty accessible, kids were able to shoot with it too, and it feels small enough that they  can handle it safely too.





Beaches, Cape Clear, Cape Clear Ferry, Cork, Ireland, Photography, Storms, West Cork

Stormy Imogen comes to visit

By @SimonCocking

The crossing was lively. The priest said it was his worst in 20 years of coming to the island. Down on the beach the next day the wind was really howling. Even parking the car, over 100 metres away, there was sea foam blowing over. Walking up the hill to reach the Dunanoir (golden castle) beach the wind was whipping up and over me. They talk about 100 mile an hour winds, maybe it wasn’t but walking and even breathing was difficult as you were pounded by it. After cautiously staggering onto the beach, and across, through the foam, my trousers, from toes to waist, were completely covered in foam. I should have taken a picture of that! Next time.

Cape Clear, West Cork

Lost buoy brief encounter Cape Clear

By  @SimonCocking

Some said from France this way it came, washed up on South Harbour shore, making a terrible racket. Then others said from the US East Coast. It came, we told the kids it was a bomb, they kicked it, the guys who fix buoys were called. They sailed up twice, in the Grainne Mhaol, had a look, waited till high tide and took it away. Winter times, iphone version, pt 1.




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Canon, Canon EOS 760D, Canon PowerShot, Cape Clear, Cork, EOS 700D, GoPro, iphone, iPhoneography, Kaiser Baas, Olympus, Photography, West Cork

Cape Clear in pictures, October – December 2015

By @SimonCocking Cape Clear, October – December using Canon, Olympus, SONY, iphone, GoPro Hero 4, Kaiser Baas cameras. Each image is a link to more of each set of pictures.

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Cape Clear, Kaiser Baas, Kayaking, Photography

Boxing Day / Stephen’s Day kayaking

By @SimonCocking

Pouring with rain, though very low wind. It’s hard to capture wave heights when you’re out in it. Fortunately too, I no longer had the camera in my mouth when I finally capsized. Before that we were happily paddling away in water that was getting increasingly choppy. At one point I realised I was ‘up’ on a whole mass of water looking down on my paddling companion, and he was a long way below me. I’d say at least 20 feet above him. He said more like 4 metres, but still higher than what he’d have chosen to paddle in.





We rolled through and survived all the really hairy stuff. There was still an unspoken agreement that it was time to push back through this really swilly messy mass of water and return to calmer waters. Silent concentration. Made it through, generally it looks more hairy than it is because the swell rises and passes through where your boat is sitting on the water.

Then, as we reached slightly calmer waters, something came from my left, and …, whoah, not able to adjust to it, and that slow stomach churn of the sure knowledge that you’re going over. Gotta practice my eskimo rolls a whole lot more. Meantime I knew I had to reach for the ripcord, underwater, hoping the camera was still wedged under the water-seals of my kayaking jacket.

Naturally the whole mini episode was watched by someone while they were on the phone, incidentally noting the capsize, swim to the front of the other boat, and eventual re-embarkation. It was all dealt with quite calmly, but thank goodness it hadn’t happened 5 mins earlier in the big waves. Sure we’d have been grand, but there might have been a lot more splashing around.

Images taken on Kaiser Baas X150 camera supplied by Harvey Norman