AT 27 YEARS OF age and with eight seasons on Galway’s senior panel under his belt, David Burke is no young novice.
Nevertheless, the brilliant midfielder from the St Thomas’s club had yet to be born when the Tribesmen last resided at the summit of inter-county hurling.
The wait for All-Ireland senior glory ended yesterday, however, as Burke delivered a man-of-the-match display in Galway’s 0-26 to 2-17 win over Waterford.
Afterwards, Burke — who’s set to win his third consecutive All-Star award and fourth in total — had the honour of collecting the coveted silverware.
In doing so, he became the first Galway captain since Conor Hayes in 1988 to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand and lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
“I fully believed at some stage I was going to be there and do the job. That’s what I was telling myself all year. It’s all about belief. The top six inches, I was telling the lads,” said Burke, who was appointed Galway captain at the start of last season.
“The hurling ability they have is serious. The lads that came off the bench as well made a massive contribution to the game. That’s really what they’ve been talking about since, the lads from 16 to 35 really got us over the line, even in the Tipp game as well.”
It was a case of third-time-lucky for Burke, who played in the All-Ireland final defeats to Kilkenny in 2012 and ’15. The Galway captain was also keen to acknowledge the contribution of players and management who had gone so close and failed in the past. Yesterday’s win ended a run of six straight losses for the county in hurling’s showpiece fixture.
He said: “I’m good friends with a lot of them — all the management teams as well going back from 1988 onwards. We got to finals over the years and just fell short.
“I just knew there was something special about this group of lads and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it and to be the captain of the team.”
Galway also answered their critics with an emphatic triumph after a 29-year wait, but Burke insists that they paid little attention to what was said outside the camp.
“Well, things have been said. Really it was just about getting over the line for this Galway team and for Galway teams before. Everyone knew the talent that was there and the ability to score. To finish off games, to see out games really was the question mark,” he said.
“I’m not going to argue with anyone, they’ve given their opinions. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but once we cross the white line it’s a different game. We’ve come out on top so we’re just really thrilled.”
Following their win against Cork, Burke also paid tribute to the victorious Galway minor team, six of whom are pupils at St Brigid’s College in Loughrea, where the Tribesmen’s senior skipper is a teacher.
“I know five or six of them personally, teaching a few of them in school,” Burke said. “They had a massive win as well, they were a couple of points down the last thing we heard, we got here then and they were winning by two. Obviously a huge performance from them as well so we’re delighted.”