Burke: ‘Our aim is for Roscommon to be a competitive top tier team’

Burke era begins as trials held

New Roscommon senior football manager, Davy Burke pictured during last Sunday’s Intermediate Football final between St. Dominic’s and Éire Óg in Dr. Hyde Park. Pic: Mick McCormack

After a process that lasted twelve weeks, Roscommon have appointed Davy Burke as their new senior football manager. Last Sunday morning he came to Roscommon town to chat with the local media.

The 34-year-old from Confey, Co. Kildare trained his native county to win the 2018 All-Ireland U-20 title. He has been involved with a number of clubs and is currently the manager of the Maynooth University Sigerson team.

Burke comes across as being fiercely ambitious and has a clear view of what he wants to achieve.

“I know that there are plenty of good young footballers in Roscommon and we want to improve them as players. There is a perception that Roscommon are a bit of a ‘yo-yo’ team and we hope to sort that out. Look, we are not going to change the world or anything like that but we want to harness the youth coming through and we aim to be a competitive top tier team.

“Staying in Division One is top priority for me. We need to solidify our stay there because the young players need to be exposed to the top level of football. We want to go out there and play the best teams in the country every week. That is the only way we will improve. Will there be ‘hairy’ days? Absolutely. We are not going to win every game but we want our players to be exposed to top level football. That’s how we are all going to learn. Going down to Division Two means that while you will have a few strong teams, there are games there that you know you are probably going to win – and that’s not much use. You have to be able to learn something every day you go out”.

There is a perception that Roscommon are odds-on to be relegated in the league but that current outlook is of no concern to the new manager.

“I won’t be giving a hoot who the journalists will be putting down for relegation. The pressure that I will put on myself and the set-up will be far greater than anybody writing about us. If things aren’t going right, it won’t take a group of journalists to tell me that. I’ll have a fair handle on it myself from training on the previous Tuesday night”.

However, Burke does acknowledge that the task facing him will be considerable.

“I want to make sure that I have the right people around me. There is no point a half an hour into the first league game at the end of January looking left and right – and (finding) there are no answers coming – so that’s why I am taking my time putting a backroom team together. Division One is a tough prospect because not alone have we the best players there, but the best coaches and managers and football brains are there too. But that’s where I want to be and from my limited chat with the players so far it is where they want to be as well”.

With regard to that backroom team, Burke has appointed former Donegal All Star Mark McHugh as part of his management set-up, with former Roscommon footballer Eddie Lohan confirmed as a  selector. More appointments will follow. Playing trials have also begun.

“I started trials on Sunday morning” Davy confirmed. “I was delighted with the response of the players. We had (given) very short notice and we had 28 lads there. There were 10 unavailable for various reasons, and five or six are injured, so we have the guts of 40 players to look at. That’s apart from last year’s panel, so we are starting out looking at 50 to 60 players and I am very happy with that. There is a huge energy around. Not one lad who told us they would be there was missing, so that’s a great start and an indication that there is major positivity about”.

So what style of football can we expect to see Roscommon playing under his watch? “I won’t be playing defensive football or overly attacking football. It’s a transition-based game. You go up and you go back. Look at Kerry two years ago when they had Paul Geaney playing wing-forward. Conor Meyler ran him the whole length of the field. Geaney didn’t want to know about it because it wasn’t his job (to follow back) in his own head. Twelve months later, they put the likes of Stephen O’Brien and Dara Moynihan there, and they have an All-Ireland as a result. I’m not saying that’s going to happen everywhere else, but it gives you the idea how the modern game is a balanced game” he said.

The new Roscommon manager says he won’t be operating to a ‘trial and error’ approach. The planning will be meticulous, and Roscommon will be aiming to win every game they play.

“We’re going to try and win every league game. Am I saying we’ll win every league game? No, but we’ll blood new players, be extremely competitive, and get the five or six points on the board, or whatever is required to stay up. We will take it from there then”.