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17th Jan 2024

Fintan Burke explains how working in manual labour suits him as a hurler

Niall McIntyre

Given St Thomas’ continued success at club-level, Fintan Burke has become something of a stranger to Galway’s pre-season slog.

He says it’s grand and all to miss it, especially when you’re chasing an All-Ireland title with your club, but also has the sense that the Galway management team wouldn’t mind having him in.

“It’s probably a good few years now since I’ve done a hard pre-season slog like that.

“So I’d say the lads wouldn’t mind getting me in for a season or two to give me a hard run I’d say,” he says with a laugh on this week’s GAA Hour.

“I’ll be trying to convince them of that anyway,” he adds, when it’s put to him that match fitness has him up to scratch.

Going on the evidence of his performance in the All-Ireland semi-final against Ballygunner, you’d be inclined to argue that it does.

Burke was one of his club’s leading lights when they took down the Ballygunner juggernaut on an incredible night in Portlaoise.

He praises a ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentality as an inspiration for their display, having come into that game from the long grass.

“You could say we had nothing to lose in that the media were building them up to be in a final. I wouldn’t say we were annoyed at that,” he tells The GAA Hour.

“Considering how we have performed on the provincial stage in the last couple of years, it probably was justified.

“But that small chip on your shoulder, it probably helped you. You’re going to use any small bit of motivation you can get.”

Another aspect of Burke’s life that keeps him fit is his work, as an electrician. While it is tough going, especially on cold wintry mornings, the 27-year-old says that it has its benefits for his hurling career.

“It is tough going when you are getting up and it’s minus degrees going off to work.

“There’s positives and negatives, the teachers have it handy getting up at 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning.

“But at least when you’re up and moving, maybe the day after a hard training or match, the body isn’t stiff.

“An hour or two walking and you wouldn’t be long loosening out.

“I’m lucky,” says the defender.

“I’ve a good girlfriend at home who would have dinners ready and meals ready and she supports me and I could be literally coming in the door, grabbing the dinner and going out the door then.

“Even now, building a house, you’re just in the door, literally grab something to eat, grab the gear-bag, you’re constantly going but it’s not that bad, just a small bit of planning goes a long way.”

Burke, who ‘wouldn’t be too fond of going to the gym’, agrees that manual labour stands to you as an athlete.

“A lot of days work as an electrician is over your head and you’d be using a good bit of your body.

“Obviously there are programmes and stuff that you need to do, you’re not going to get everything done while you’re working but you’re maybe not in need of the gym as much as if you’re sitting down all day.”

Burke says that St Thomas’ took a few days off over the Christmas, before getting back on the horse, all roads leading to Croke Park in January.

“Personally I went away on holidays for a week or two. We’re not silly, we know that over Christmas, there are a lot more important things than hurling, like spending time with your family.

“Lads took a few days off over Christmas, then got a few sessions done, got back on the horse and pushed on into January then.”

And while he hasn’t been going mad practicing sidelines either, don’t be in any way surprised if he slots one. Because there are some things you just don’t forget.

“I wouldn’t practice them at all nowadays because it’s very rare that I’d be coming out of full back to actually hit them.

“As a young lad, I’m lucky, I only live maybe a minute walk from the pitch and the auld lad is and was caretaker of the pitch back then.

“So when he was cutting the grass, I’d be hitting sidelines, being a young lad at the pitch every day.

“It wasn’t something I intentionally practiced, I was more so doing it out of pure enjoyment and it’s something I haven’t forgot to do.”

16 January 2024; AIB ambassadors, from left, Brian Stack of St Brigid’s, Conor Glass of Glen, Fintan Burke of St Thomas’ and Mark Bergin of O’Loughlin Gaels, pictured ahead of the AIB GAA Senior Club Championship Football All-Ireland Final, between Watty Graham’s Glen and St Brigid’s. This season, AIB will honour #TheToughest players in Gaelic Games – those who persevere no matter what, giving their all for their club and community. AIB is in its 33rd year supporting the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Championships. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile