It's an absolute privilege to say 'I was there when David Burke lifted Liam' 6 years ago

It's an absolute privilege to say 'I was there when David Burke lifted Liam'

The West is most certainly awake.

Sitting in Croke Park as the fireworks went off and golden confetti blanketed the pitch, I was struck by the number of fans still in the stadium.


Safety notices were being blared over the speakers, but they were drowned out by a chorus of voices jubilantly screaming the lyrics to Galway Girl and N17.

Fans realised they'd witnessed a piece of history and wanted to stay behind and soak it in for as long as possible.

The players milled around the pitch, parading Liam with pride. Their hard work being rewarded. Those long nights early in the year in wind, rain, sleet, and snow paying dividends.

The fans who stayed behind (as can be seen below), wanted to make sure that each and every player knew that their hard work, dedication and sacrifices were appreciated.


Joseph Cooney said after the game that the win was, "Everything we've ever dreamed of. We've put our lives on hold for this."

It paid off for them. It paid off for them in spades.

It was a game that, in truth, Galway always seemed to have enough to win. There were a few minutes either side of half time which would have had Galway fans twitching nervously in their seats, but aside from that there was a sense, overall, this Galway side had the measure of their Munster opponents.


There was a moment in the 44th minute where Austin Gleeson fetched a ball from the clouds in a cluster outside the Galway square. He broke out with his back to goal and struck to smash the ball into the back of the Davin Stand and between the posts. We've seen it so many times during his short career. To paraphrase any aul' fella down the pub, it would have been worth two scores.

But Gearóid McInerney had other ideas. He didn't panic when Gleeson pulled out a highlight reel catch. He stuck to his task, blocked down down Gleeson, chased the ball and ended up dispossessing last year's Hurler of the Year. It felt like the moment Galway knew the game was in their own hands.

Sitting in the stadium, it was a privilege to witness some of the performances on show. David Burke served up a feast from midfield, sitting deep at times before rampaging forward to hit four points from play. It was the complete performance. He ran himself to a standstill and only when his spasming cramps became too much did he bow out. His job was done.

Jamie Barron, a man sick with the flu for the last ten days, showed immense resilience in the middle of the park. The pocket battleship was a bundle of energy around the the four corners of Croke Park.


He hit two points from play, was stuck in every ruck (there were plenty of them) and teed up his teammates for a number of scores. It may well be a performance which earns him the Hurler Of The Year accolade.

A battle that went somewhat under the radar on the pitch was the match-up between Michael 'Brick' Walsh and John Hanbury in the shadow of the stands. Two men, unyielding in their approach with 'Brick' being a suitable description for either of them.

Walsh the veteran with his cuteness and aggression; Hanbury a younger gun with hunger and desire. Not a single inch was given from either player.

Tadhg de Búrca showed the why he's such a key figure in the Waterford team with another intelligent performance. There were calls around me during the game that Galway were "making an All-Star" out of him by hitting aimless balls down his channel. This does a huge disservice to de Búrca. It's no accident that he was under so many balls in Croker on Sunday. He reads the game wonderfully well, his positioning is rarely off and he's an old head on young shoulders. A class act.


Could they just let both sides win and be done with it? It would have been different if either side had been replaced with say... Kilkenny or Tipperary. But neither of these teams had tasted success on the biggest stage for decades, it was tough to pick a loser from the pairing.

When the final whistle blew, and the last piece of confetti hit the surface of GAA HQ. David Burke's emotional and heartfelt speech where he remembered those who had gone before, was the perfect ending to a magical day in Croke Park. It wasn't Waterford's year. It may well be next year. We'll all tune in again for another season of ups, downs, twists and turns.

In the words of Joseph Cooney; "We enjoyed every minute it. That's why you do it, enjoyment."