Winning form

By David Burke, B Tech (education) Materials and Construction Technology 2011

When it comes to accolades in the world of GAA, few have managed to scale the heights achieved by UL alumnus and Galway Senior Hurling Captain David Burke:

Two Leinster titles, two National Hurling League titles, one All-Ireland and four All-Stars – it’s clear that David is one of the very best midfielders of his era. This level of achievement doesn’t come easily, especially in hurling, a sport that is evolving and becoming more physical and competitive by the season. But as an amateur sport, a player of David’s calibre must strike a balance between the sport he adores, his career and the rest of his life.

“The last year has been hectic,” David says. “We have been training most weeks of the year, back in the gym in January and then into the League early February, before the busy summer months. You’re in a bit of a bubble during the season and it’s a lifestyle, but I enjoy it. I was carrying an injury at the end of the season, I didn’t train much in December so it was really good to be back and having the craic. Social events can often end up being put on the long finger, but it’s also important to get time out and relax and switch off – getting that balance right is difficult but it’s important.”

David Burke lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin, 3 September 2017.

Both football and hurling have ramped up in recent years in terms of competitiveness and physicality, so it’s important for players to train correctly, rest and eat right. It is something that managers and players alike are conscious of. “There’s only so much you can get out of a player, and they have to be looked after. I think players are wise enough now to go to the coach or manager and say if they need to rest or do more running or gym work.”

Social events can often end up being put on the long finger, but it’s also important to get time out and relax and switch off

The level of commitment expected of an inter-county player is huge, yet it’s still an amateur sport, so a solid career plan is a strong consideration. “You need a good Leaving Cert, for example,” says David, who graduated from UL in 2011. “I’m a teacher and I’m happy with my job and progressing nicely at it, but every person is different. There are loads of courses and financial aid for people if they need it – it’s different in each inter-county team, but the help is there.”

As a teacher in a GAA-crazy county like Galway,

David naturally sees a lot of up-and-coming talent and is well-placed to offer some life-sport balance advice of his own. “I would tell them to keep their feet firmly on the ground as they’re only a few feet away from falling into a big hole,” he says. “If you win, don’t get too carried away, as there’s another training session or match coming up. Same if you lose, don’t get too down about it. It’s only a game at the end of the day. Enjoy the win, forget the loss and try to learn from it and move on.”