Mayo face year without Burke after knee injury

MAYO goalkeeper and vice-captain Peter Burke will miss the remainder of the year due to a knee injury.

The Kiltimagh clubman, who was in training for the Bank of Ireland Connacht SFC Final against Galway, came down heavily on his leg at training last Tuesday evening. Following an MRI scan on Thursday, he was told that he had torn his cruciate knee ligament. He is now awaiting surgery and is not expected to return to the game for at least 12 months.

Although he was disappointed at the news, Burke said that he will remain involved with the team for the duration of the championship.

“I just went up for a high ball, caught it and landed awkwardly on my knee. I felt it buckle under me and I knew there was damage done, but I hoped it wasn’t too serious. When I went for the MRI on Thursday I was told by Dr Pat O’Neill that my cruciate ligament was gone,” he said.

“It’s very disappointing for me and is a bit of a blow to the team, but I suppose it could be worse. I’ve been training with the lads all through the winter, so I won’t leave now. I’ll stay involved in whatever way I can.”

Burke is likely to be replaced between the posts by Cil Chomáin’s Fintan Ruddy, who has been his deputy all season. The Glenamoy man featured for Mayo at Under-21 level last year and has also played in a number of competitive senior clashes recently.

Ballina’s David Clarke, who is himself recovering from a cruciate knee injury, has also been drafted into the panel in the last week and will be the sub-keeper for the Connacht Final.

Clarke has been back in training with his club for the last six weeks and has taken part in two games in the last fortnight.

Ironically, a similar fate befell Burke’s uncle, former Mayo goalkeeper Eugene Lavin, in 1989. Lavin sustained a hamstring injury prior to Mayo’s Connacht Final clash with Roscommon and was replaced by another Glenamoy man, Gabriel Irwin, who went on to win an All-Star that year, following a string of good performances as Mayo marched to the All-Ireland final.

Meanwhile, Down County Board has lodged a protest with the Ulster Council against Fermanagh being awarded the MFC semi-final game, played in Clones on Sunday.

Down claims that Fermanagh had an extra player on the field for about two minutes nearing the close of the game. Certainly a Fermanagh player went into the game but there was no indication from the referee that he was a ‘blood’ replacement and he did not have the required yellow armband.

Wexford full-back Darragh Ryan has declared himself fit for the Guinness Leinster SHC Final with Kilkenny on Sunday, July 6. Ryan, who had sustained his second cruciate knee ligament injury, has not played at intercounty level since last year’s provincial decider defeat to the Cats.

He was on the bench for their dramatic provincial semi-final victory over Offaly, but has undertaken an intensive recuperation programme.

“The training is going perfect and I’m making myself available for selection. The knee can be a little sore following training on the hard ground but it’s not sufficient to keep me out of the game. Now I just hope to get the selectors’ vote. I’ll be ready,” he said.

Ryan’s determination to play is welcome news for the team management and players, as they still wait on the availability of midfielder Rory McCarthy. He broke his finger in the semi-final win and must prove his fitness at training next week.

Meanwhile Dominic McKinley is seriously contemplating his future as Derry hurling boss, after a frustrating second year in charge of the Oak Leaf County.

McKilney, who succeeded Kevin McNaughton to the post in 2001, admitted that he would “find it hard to continue” in his role as manager.

“It’s a year-to-year basis I work on. I still oversee the U21s which is coming up in a month’s time, with two round robin games in Ulster. I’ll see that out and then I’ll speak to them about what’s going to happen,” he said.

“It’s important I speak to the selectors and the chairman. The two boys I have with me are very genuine hurling people, Tom Magill of Lavey and Seanie McCloskey of Banagher. I need to speak to them and make clear my views on what’s going to happen.

“To be honest I would find it hard to continue on for a lot of reasons, but I think I need to speak to them first before I make any decision.”

Derry, who won the Ulster Championship in 2000 for the first time in 92 years and retained it the following year, fell to an unceremonious 3-21 to 1-12 defeat in this year’s provincial decider, and were subsequently beaten by Kerry in the qualifiers.

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