Saturday 18 November 2017

I was delighted we got there playing ugly - Burke

Tribe captain highlights league win as turning point

Galway's All-Ireland winning captain David Burke lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Galway's All-Ireland winning captain David Burke lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A few days after their All-Ireland semi-final win over Tipperary David Burke got an important piece of business out of the way - a winning captain's speech.

He drafted a few bullet points and gave one copy to Tex Callaghan, Galway's long-time kit man, and another to his mother who had helped him script it.

"That was it, I didn't see it again for three weeks before the game. You'd always be thinking, did I leave that fella out or this fella out? It was great to get your mind off it and just focus on the game then after that."

The speech carried resonance for all the important and poignant points it made. Tony Keady, Niall Donohue, all the previous players and managers who had strove without success in the 29 years since their last.

"Last year really alone, David Collins, Andy Smith, Iarla Tannian, Fergal Moore and all those lads. It's more frustration really. They'd be delighted for us that we won.

"But you could sit here for the day and put a list together of all the players you think should have deserved an All-Ireland for Galway in the last 29 years, you could be here for a while. Just mindful of the fact they've all been connected to it at the time. It was for them to get a piece of it as well."

Burke's speech reflected leadership skills that have flourished this year. They run a leadership group within the squad where six to seven older players meet almost as a Cabinet and at times this year it has been an important reference in the 'player ownership' that they spoke of after the All-Ireland final.

"We did it in a way last year where you pick a few players and deal with them but it was more just getting to know lads really and the fact that we had a couple of younger lads in there, it was just about a matter of building trust with every player and it really was a point of contact for me to go back to the lads and say if I wanted to get key messages across or something like that. When it does come down to it in a battle like that they'll trust you," he said.

The leadership group had one key meeting in the wake of the Wexford league defeat, their last of the season.

"It was just frustration above anything because we know we're a good team but obviously Wexford found a way to beat us that day. We just had to really up it ourselves and I think that was a turning point along with the Waterford game, that lads just realised that it's either now or not this year. It's fine lines."

Burke believes it will help Galway to commence their season in Division 1B again next February.

"When you are going into the league next year you are not under as much pressure to get results. I actually think it should be (a case) where every player has to play a certain amount of time in the league because it is way too competitive.

"You see lads, even the counties in football, just fall apart once the league is over, going into championship. It's just a matter of bringing whatever you've done well in the league into the championship and improving on things."

Burke's All-Ireland final display earned him the man of the match award after experiencing a semi-final dip against Tipperary.

Delighted

"I was really just delighted that we got through playing ugly and not playing well and knowing myself that I would have a better game in the final.

"And that's what it's all down to. It's your own belief. It's your own thoughts. It's what you are telling yourself in the weeks prior to that.

"I didn't train for the two weeks after that game at all. I picked up a small knee injury and I maybe had three or four sessions before the final. The bit of rest actually probably helped me in a way as well. I said if I can get my performance up surely we will be good enough to win the game."

Burke admitted there is a doubt over goalkeeper Colm Callanan's future. "Maybe Colm might be on about looking at going but goalkeeper isn't really a position that (demands) athleticism. He could stick around so. He mightn't."

The Connacht double didn't materialise with Mayo's defeat to Dublin in the football final and he accepts that they now face greater psychological challenges than any Galway hurler has had to face up to.

"I think it'll be hard for them to come back from it, hopefully they can regroup and be stronger again next year.

"Jesus, if I was them, I don't know what I'd do. I suppose last year when we lost to Tipp, (we asked) how were we going to get back to next year.

"All you want to do is get back to the summer again and championship hurling."

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Irish Independent

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