Saturday 23 September 2017

We want medals now before emigration rips team apart – Burke

Kenneth Burke
Kenneth Burke

Declan Rooney

He was the first to emerge from the brood and play for Galway, but Kenneth Burke never thought he'd see the day when his five younger brothers would play alongside him in Croke Park.

Burke had played senior inter-county hurling by the time he captained the Galway U-21's to an All-Ireland final victory over Kilkenny in 2005, but victory with his family for St Thomas' in the All-Ireland club final on Sunday would surpass all of those achievements.

Dad John is manager and 28-year-old Kenneth (below) is joined by brothers David, Darragh, Sean, Cathal and Eanna on a St Thomas' side who had never even reached a Galway final until last November.

Being the elder statesman of the Burke clan means a certain responsibility on the field for electrician Kenneth, but he says they are all well able to fight their own corner.

"They are well able to mind themselves now at this stage. They are giving out to me, it is the other way around now. There are too many of them there to bully me!

"It is good, there are a lot of us there but we are just enjoying it while it's here. This is all we have done all of our lives, we just play hurling and we enjoy it. We are just lucky that this group of players have come together at the one time, and they are all well able to hurl," said Kenneth, who also played for the Galway minors at Croke Park in 2001 and 2002.

Since their first Galway championship success in November, much of the talk surrounding St Thomas' has predicted that they are a team for the future. But Burke is anxious that they cash in now rather than hoping for possible successes down the line.

"It is a great bonus that we have been successful. You have a certain amount of time and you have to win as much as you can when you have that group of players. You just don't know what will happen down the line, maybe lads will have to emigrate to help their families.

"I am working as an electrician at the moment, so I am not too bad. I work for my cousin Colin, so he has managed to keep a steady business, which is good. But a lot of lads I know, their work is gone.

"A good few of our lads are in college and one or two others are sticking around to finish out this year. They might be going abroad after that – they have no work. You have to take every chance you get. A lot of clubs around Galway have lost players and more clubs are losing players every week. It is not good," said Kenneth, who made his inter-county debut in 2003.

Irish Independent

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