A delighted Davy Burke couldn’t wipe the wide smile from his face as he carried out his various media duties following Kildare’s victory in the All-Ireland U20 Football Championship final on Sunday.
The Confey native’s enthusiasm has shone through right throughout this year, and it has clearly rubbed off on his players who have been very forthcoming with their praise of the manager. Kildare played with the same style and precision they have all year when they came up against Mayo on Sunday, yet they also did something similar to what happened against Kerry in the semi-final, allowing the opposition to come back at them when it looked like the game was over.
Burke understands why that happened, and joked that it’s just as well the players won’t have to see him again this week.
“We were five or six points up again with eight minutes to go and we retreated a small bit again,” remarked Burke.
“Three weeks ago, we did the same thing against Kerry and brought them back into it – naturally you protect what you have, so we let them back and allowed them get runners on us and they cut us open a couple of times. We wouldn’t be happy with that, but look, they don’t have to see me on Tuesday night which is one good thing anyway!
“It’s just unbelievable. All-Ireland champions Kildare! I was in here doing an interview and I was looking at a screen there and an underage Kildare team was doing a lap of honour in Croke Park after winning an All-Ireland. As a Kildare man, what more do you want?”
The impact that Kildare’s substitutes had on the game was telling. John O’Toole came on in the first half to replace clubmate DJ Earley who had been black carded, while Mark Glynn was superb after his half-time introduction. The rest of the subs played their parts too, and Burke’s proactiveness with his changes is a credit to the management team and their preparation.
“We pulled the 16-24 out before the game and we said ‘look lads, it’s an All-Ireland final, there’s going to be nerves, things are going to go wrong here today – let’s not think everything is going to go well,” revealed Burke.
“If a fella isn’t having a good day, you be ready whether that’s 10 minutes, 20 minutes or half an hour in. You be ready, because we know we have serious strength in depth there. John O’Toole –he’s a serious man and we know he’s a massive leader in this team. He hasn’t got a run at it – he just lost a bit of form in May and June, but he has really started hitting the ground in training.
“When DJ went, John was the next up and fair play to him, I’m delighted for him. Mark Glynn as well has had no luck with injuries. Two years he has been out with injuries. He was out injured with us until May, up to June maybe with injury. Again, what a talent to have there. When you have Davy Marnell, Aaron Masterson and Mark Glynn, you have all avenues covered.”
The hope now is that a good bulk of this team can go on to represent Kildare at senior level, and Burke believes that as many as 10 of them are ready to get a chance to progress to the top ranks. Whether or not they can hold their own at this early stage in their development remains to be seen, but the talent is certainly not in question.
“You’d have to want 10 of them to go through, and even if it’s the O’Byrne Cup or challenges, you have to as a county get 10 of these lads up there,” said Burke.
“And then let’s see how they handle it. Can they handle the big, physical corner-backs? Can they handle the higher intensity of senior football? I can’t see why around 10 of these lads can’t step up. Having said that, there is five or six of them who are again on this team next year. Let’s leave them here for next year maybe and then push them up, but I would be looking for 10 of these lads to get a chance at senior level.”
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