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'It’s important to support players in other things they want to do outside of hurling'

Niall Burke was glad to see fellow forwards Johnny Glynn and Joseph Cooney return to the Galway squad in time for the championship.

Galway forward Niall Burke is pictured at Centra’s launch of the GAA All Ireland Hurling Championship.
Galway forward Niall Burke is pictured at Centra’s launch of the GAA All Ireland Hurling Championship.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

NIALL BURKE HAS praised the Galway management team for how they’ve handled the returns of Johnny Glynn and Joseph Cooney to the squad for the championship. 

Glynn is based in New York but has commuted home for the past two summers while Cooney recently returned from a stint in Australia.

The pair’s return has been timely given the groin surgery Joe Canning underwent which ruled him out for the entire Leinster championship.

“They were training away hard and following, essentially, the same programme as us, they were just doing it individually rather than collectively,” said Burke. 

“They’re still very much a part of the group albeit they might be in a different part of the world. It’s important to support players in other things they want to do outside of hurling and I think the Galway management have been very supportive of that.

“It benefits the team as a whole to know that they have the trust in players to do things outside of sport.”

Like the Galway pair, Clare forward Shane O’Donnell missed the entire league campaign but showed no signs of rust in Clare’s Munster SHC round 1 win over Waterford. 

Neither Glynn or Cooney featured in the opening round win over Carlow on 12 May, but are expected to come into contention for Sunday’s home clash against Wexford. 

“They’re back now fully integrated into the panel,” says Burke. “A lot of people seem to say they’re only back playing now but they’ve been following their own training programmes up until now individually.

“It’s just a case of getting back in doing some collective training. But they’re in really good shape and ready to go.”

In Canning’s absence, Burke has assumed the free-taking responsibilities. He scored 1-7 from placed balls in Oranmore-Maree’s All-Ireland club intermediate final victory in February and dispatched six frees against Carlow the weekend before last.

“It’s something that I enjoy doing. I was taking them for club and there was obviously an extended club season so it kind of was one rolled into the other essentially so it wasn’t something that I was overthinking.”

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Over the course of this championship, Centra will seek to get beneath the helmet of their GAA ambassadors who are some of Ireland’s best-known hurlers and their support teams to unearth what it is that not only drives their passion for the sport, but what it means to them to represent their communities on hurling’s biggest stage.

In doing so, Centra will explore the emotion generated by the GAA All Ireland Hurling Championships beyond just the players and the teams, but into communities right around Ireland – and the unique connection felt by many to the GAA no matter the extent or type of their involvement.

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Kevin O'Brien

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