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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Ian Burke.
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All-Star Burke returns to Galway football squad, Joyce unhappy with split season
Burke withdrew from the squad two years ago because of work commitments.

FORMER ALL-STAR IAN Burke is back in the Galway squad as Pádraic Joyce prepares for his fifth season in charge hoping to go one better than this year, when they were pipped by Kerry in the All-Ireland final.

Burke, who withdrew from the Galway squad two years ago because of work commitments in the financial sector, is among a number of new players included as Joyce and his selectors bid to strengthen their hand for 2023.

Joyce, speaking at the launch of Supermac’s sponsorship renewal of Galway GAA for the next five years in a deal worth a minimum €2.25m – which could rise to €3.25m depending on how successful teams are – said they were going to return to training with a ‘development squad’ as they needed to give players a break after a prolonged season.

Joyce said he is not a fan of the current split season as some county players do not get a break.

“I don’t think the split season is great for the county player when you look back at it. Lads finished up with us on the 24th of July and two weeks later they were back in action with their clubs and we still have lads playing for their club.

And it’s not just lads in county finals or provincial championships. They are playing play-off games and relegation matches. Some players could still be playing for their club in January. It’s very demanding and tiring on the inter-county player.

“So, unless I give them a break now, they won’t get one at all. But they need a break and they need to be able to do a proper pre-season or they will start picking up niggles and injuries,” said Joyce.

Galway returned to training last Thursday night but Joyce knows it will be another month or two before he has his full squad back and in that time nine players, including Corofin clubman Burke, will get a chance to stake a claim for inclusion for 2023.

He was Galway’s first All-Star for 15 years when he was honoured in 2018 but a heavy work schedule impacted on his inter-county career, although he continued to be part of Corofin’s glorious period.

Salthill/Knocknacarra’s John Maher and Evan Murphy, along Barry McHugh from Mountbellew/Moylough are among the players who have re-joined but it will be into the New Year before Michael Daly comes back in after missing almost the entire year for his club with a knee injury.

“We will see how these lads perform for the next few weeks. There is a great bond there in the current squad and we need to be careful as management that we don’t upset that,” added Joyce.

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“The lads now know what’s required if we are to get to an All-Ireland and win it. We are looking at up to 18 games if we get to the All-Ireland final next year. That’s some amount of games in less than six months so you need a good squad and they need to be properly prepared going into it.”

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