Ex-Dub Burke living boyhood dream after Banner switch
The case for approving Pat Burke’s ‘Clareness’ closes almost as soon as it opens. No need for the jury to sit on this one for too long.
He was born in the county to Clare parents, lived there for the first year and a half of his life, spent all his Christmases and summer holidays in Lahinch.
He even remembers the night the Clare team hopped up and down off the back of lorries across the west of the county in celebration of their landmark 1992 Munster title.
His father played football for Kilmurry-Ibrickane and the county before the family moved to Dublin.
Even when he was playing for the Dubs, though, his heart was never far from Clare. So when Colm Collins came calling at the end of last season, he leapt at the chance.
Four League goals and a decent Division 3 campaign later, Burke is thriving in his ‘new’ environment.
“People might not believe that I always wanted to play for Clare every bit as much as Dublin growing up,” says Burke (31), who makes his Championship debut for Clare against Limerick tonight.
“They were dual ambitions. Seeing my dad playing for Clare was something but it would be unfair to say that I wanted to play for one over the other.
“My dad would was always bringing me to games when we were down there.”
In Dublin, Pat Burke Snr linked up with Kilmacud Crokes and his son followed, after drifting away from the game during his teens.
At 21 he returned to play a 2005 junior match and within three-and-a-half months he had a Dublin senior medal.
By the following spring he was in on Paul Caffrey’s Dublin squad.
“It all happened too soon,” he reflects.
He was gone by 2008 but Pat Gilroy recalled him for 2009 and he came on as a substitute in all four Championship games that summer.
His last appearance for Dublin was in the 2011 League final defeat to Cork. Once again the discharge papers were served. This time they made tougher reading.
“I spent the summer in Lahinch trying to get away from it. It was tough,” he recalls. “It probably hurt more because I knew that I was being dropped from a squad that was on the brink of achieving something special.”
Former Clare manager Micheal McDermott sounded him out but Burke (pictured) turned him down because of exams and club commitments. Last year, though, he had a change of heart.
“We were also knocked out from club championship early last year. During the little break over the summer, it hit me then how much I wanted to be involved,” he says.
While travelling he followed Clare’s games on Twitter.
“It little bit of a fire under me. I was hoping Colm (Collins) would call and, as soon as he did, I said yes. I didn’t think about the commitment or the travelling. I was just going to do whatever it took.”
He spends weekends in Clare, training on a Friday night and a Sunday morning unless there is a game and travels down midweek.
The sacrifice is worth it.