The manager behind St Thomas’ Galway Senior Hurling Championship triumph has spoken of his pride at six of his own sons being involved in the team’s victory over nearby Loughrea.
Five of John Burke’s sons – Kenneth, aged 28; Seán, aged 25; Cathal, aged 20; Darragh, aged 19 and recent All-Star winner and Galway Senior forward, David, who is 22. – were in the starting line-up on Sunday at Pearse Stadium, while his son, minor star Éanna Burke also took to the field for the final minutes of St Thomas’ 3-11 to 2-11 victory over the 2006 Galway Champions.
David Burke said the club’s maiden Galway championship victory provided a fitting end to what had been “a mighty year”, following Galway’s All-Ireland run and his selection on the All-Star team.
“It was a grand year, but to top it off with the club, winning with the lads you grew up with, it’s mighty, really,” said the forward, who contributed two points to his team’s hard-fought victory on a sodden Pearse Stadium pitch.
David said the family dimension also brought an added dynamic to the team, with a third of the starting line-up boasting an increased awareness of each other’s playing style.
“It gives you an added advantage, I suppose. You know their ins and outs and what they’re going to do with the ball next,” he said, adding that the rest of the team was a similarly tight-knit bunch.
It was a sentiment echoes by his father, who managed the team to its first championship since Peterswell and Kilchreest joined forces in 1968.
“They developed as a group and they’re all friends. I’d have my six lads and there are three Cooneys and three Murrays and two Skehills and there are Kellys. They’re all like brothers,” he said.
While he said it was “lovely” to have his six sons involved, they were not in receipt of any special treatment and were just as prone to being dropped if they did not perform.
“There’s no minding anyone or anything like that; everybody’s equal once they get to the field and that’s the way it’s done. You could have it no other way.”
Conversely, he said, he did not mete out any extra punishment to his own sons and preferred to encourage all his players, adding that the six Burke team members would let each other know if they were underperforming.
“There’ll be a good row at the table when we’re having the dinner or the tea, they’d be giving out to each other! But they get over it and get on with it,” he said.
St Thomas’ now face the reigning All-Ireland senior hurling club champions, Antrim’s Loughgiel Shamrocks, in the All-Ireland semi-final next February.