When I saw this photograph of the ageless (well, he’s 83) Danny Burke on GAA umpire duty last weekend, I decided to ring the renowned Castlerea man and put a few quickfire questions to him!
Danny answered his landline – and he answered any question I had too – displaying impressive memory.
When I told Danny I liked the photo of him umpiring at the Hyde last weekend, he informed me that he refereed four games earlier this week (in the St Paul’s School League, which he’s been organising every year since 1968). That was two games on Monday and two on Tuesday!
When he retired from An Post eighteen years ago, his great friends – the doctors at Kelly Henry Medical Centre – told him to keep doing what he’s doing (in terms of sporting and community involvement) and he sticks to that approach to this day. Danny has no plans to slow down. He’s in good health and will celebrate his 84th birthday next February. He remains very active in the community, including with the Castlerea Brass & Reed Band. What a Roscommon legend this man is!
PH: Danny, can you remember the very first GAA game you ever attended?
DB: Yes, it was the 1948 Connacht final between Galway and Mayo, played in St Coman’s Park. I went with my late father, Joseph (Joe). It ended in a draw.
PH: Can you remember the first game you ever refereed?
DB: It was in the Western Board Minor Championship, St Croan’s v St Mary’s in 1961.
PH: You’ve served in just about every GAA role…player, ref, administrator, coach…
DB: I’ve been coaching at juvenile level for decades. I was county minor selector from 1960 to 1980 and county senior selector from 1974 to ’85 (he was also U-21 selector, and had multiple roles with Castlerea and the county across all grades).
PH: Who’s the best player you’ve ever seen? Okay Danny, you can pick two…
DB: Oh dear! It’s hard to overlook our own Dermot Earley. I’d also have a great regard for Michael Donnellan of Galway. Going back further, I’d have to mention Sean Purcell (Galway) and Gerry O’Malley (Roscommon).