'There was no doubt he was looking down on us' - Keady passing helped to give Tribe perspective, admits Burke
One of Galway's main catalysts for All-Ireland success, Niall Burke, has reflected on the close connection he had with the late Tony Keady and how his death gave the team perspective in the build-up to last weekend's All-Ireland final.
Burke, who landed two points and was fouled for two more frees when he came off the bench after losing his place, is from the Oranmore-Maree club where Keady was involved but also had him as a schools coach at Calasanctius College in Oranmore where Keady worked as a caretaker.
"Tony put in a massive effort in our club. The first time we met him, he was training our schools team, we won two schools medals with him in Calasanctius.
"There was no doubt he was looking down on us and it was great to see his kids in the dressing room afterwards. Hopefully they'll go on to become legends in the Galway jersey.
"A tragedy like that really puts everything in perspective. It was great to have the family there with us. I know Pat (Malone) and Gerry (McInerney) from our club were very close to Tony. I hope they had a good day. It's still a tough time. Hopefully, this will go a small way to help them getting over their grief."
Burke is a housemate and club colleague of Gearóid McInerney and has hailed his contribution to Galway's year.
"He works very hard on and off the pitch and he deserves everything he gets. 'Man of the match' in the semi-final and in contention again on Sunday, all his hard work has paid off ," he said.
"He has had to be patient. He didn't play minor, he was on the U-21 panel then. He just put his head down, worked hard and he's getting his rewards now."
Burke admitted he had to quickly put the disappointment of losing his place for the All-Ireland final to Johnny Glynn behind him last week.
"Everyone wants to be playing from the start," he explained. "You have to put that disappointment behind you as soon as possible because it's a team game, it's not about any one individual.
"At the end of the day it's more important that Galway won the All-Ireland than any one individual, way better having a smile on your face at the end of the match and the team winning. That's what it's all about."
And he admitted to benefiting from a kind bounce that allowed him to win a free from his first piece of action and settle quickly.
"The first ball came in, bounced in front of me and I got a free. That kind of settled me then," he revealed.
"I hit one from the sideline, hoped for the best and luckily it went over.
"I've hit ones from there before and they've gone wide and people have been roaring at me but that one went over. Conor Whelan flicked out another one, worked hard at the breakdown and flicked another ball out onto space.
"I probably could have took it on a bit more but just hit it over in the end. You never really know how it's going to go when you get an early few touches, it always settles you and gets you to the pace of the game."