Burke: ‘We want to be playing senior football’

Club stalwart Wally Burke is the manager of St. Faithleach’s and a man with plenty of club and inter-county management experience. He began by assessing Faithleach’s form this year so far.

“We were in a tough group alongside St. Dominic’s, Éire Óg and Kilmore. Ourselves and Dominic’s qualified and Éire Óg acquitted themselves very well in the play-offs”.

He admitted that 2020 had been a strange year for everyone at the club.

“It was a tough year with Covid and a lot of the lads training with the county team as well. There wasn’t much preparation time, we had a few injuries and we were deservedly beaten in that semi-final,” he said.

Injuries to key players this year like the experienced Brian Murtagh and Darragh Hussey – and to young Cian Glennon – have been big blows to the Ballyleague men.

“Brian (Murtagh) broke his leg against Kilmore in a very innocuous challenge and he is out for the year. Cian Glennon got injured playing against Mayo in the (U-20) Connacht final and he is not right yet, and Darragh Hussey tore his Achilles tendon in a challenge game, and they are three county players,” he said.

St. Faithleach’s were leading by 2-12 to 0-2 against Castlerea in the semi-final but then conceded 1-8 without reply, something which caused the management some concern.

“You never like to see that happen but we responded well and kicked a few nice points to pull away again. If we fall asleep like that on Sunday, Dominic’s will put us to the sword,” he added.

Wally was adamant there isn’t too much pressure on county stars Ciaráin and Diarmuid Murtagh ahead of Sunday.

“St. Dominic’s are in the same position. They will be looking to Daire Keenan, Darren Donnelly and Conor Fallon and those lads will be under pressure to get the scores too. But we have plenty of other lads who are doing well this year like Kevin Farrell, Dave Rooney, Johnny Hussey and Stephen Walsh,” he said.

Wally says leading the Ballyleague club back to the senior ranks has been the aim all year long.

“We are no different to any other club. We want to be playing senior football. I predict that St. Dominic’s will be playing senior football very soon too as they have a lot of young talent coming through. But I hope that happens for them in 12 months’ time! We are hoping that this year it will be our turn,” he concluded.