2018 is a year that will live long in the memory of Galway forward, Ian Burke. From winning the club All Ireland final in March in Croke Park to a long summer with the Galway seniors, to being awarded his first All-Star, the Corofin man has been going from strength to strength.
The year is not over yet, however, as he will be hoping to add the Connacht club crown to that haul when his side take on Ballintubber of Mayo in the final this Sunday.
The 25-year-old admits that winning his first All-Star award was a “huge honour”, especially when his cousin, Daithi, picked up a gong for the hurling team as well.
“The All-Stars were good old craic. Daithi has got his fourth one so he’d had a couple of nights out at it. It was brilliant. It was nice for the seven Galway footballers to be nominated, it was a good testament of the year that we had with Galway and to win one was a huge honour and obviously for Daithi as well, it was huge for the family.”
“Yeah, it was a nice phone call to get I suppose. Kevin Walsh rang me on the Wednesday evening and they were released on the Thursday.”
With that over, all personal accolades are put to one side as he turns his mind to the Galway team and their progression in 2019 with a number of goals in mind.
“We’re more focused on what Galway football did rather than who won what, so we’re focused on winning a Connacht title, beating Kerry, getting to the semis. They’re good end of year accounts. We’ve ticked a lot of boxes. It’s something we’ll try to build on for the next year. We’re all about the collective, it’s a 30-man game now, each team. We’re focused on the team rather than what individuals do.”
“We’re looking to probably evolve and try and build on what we did last year. I think if you look at the guys, even Sean Andy O Ceallaigh and Sean Kelly in their first years playing have been nominated for All-Stars. So I think there were trial games on, we got one or two lads back, so hopefully, we can get lads to mix in and make similar positive impacts and drive this on farther. We’re excited about 2018 and yeah hopefully we can build on last year.”
Before any of that can happen, Burke will be hoping to go as far as possible with Corofin as they aim for continued success in Connacht and their third All Ireland title in five years. Their opponents, Ballintubber, are no strangers with the sides having met in the 2014 decider. Burke knows exactly what to expect from the Mayo champions.
“That [2014 ]was the first year we won Connacht in a couple of years. That was my first one so it was special. We knew exactly, similar enough to now, what they have. They’re battle-hardened now at this stage, they’ve a lot of big games in that, even with Mayo and against Castlebar and that. They’re a brilliant team, we know we’ve a big challenge ahead of us so hopefully, we can do it.”
“We were hugely honoured to win the two All-Irelands we had but as I said if you take your eye off the ball at this level, you’re asking for trouble. We’re focused on Connacht final, next game. It’s very easy to look back in years to come to see what you did. We’re just happy to be here and happy to be involved.”
Corofin’s Ian Burke was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA Connacht Senior Football Championship Final where they will face Ballintubber on Sunday, November 25th at McHale Park.