Blisters force Burke out of decider but believes Meath in safe hands

Those who know him best will tell you it takes a lot to fell Mickey Burke.

When he missed out on the 2010 Leinster wins over Dublin and Louth, it was because of a broken leg and medial ligament tear.

Against Laois in Tullamore, the defender had been battling for possession when a collision smashed both his tibia and fibula.

The pain was that bad it was some time before he managed to take off his jersey, shorts and socks in his hospital bed.

He contemplated never being able to play for Meath again.

“That time, breaking your leg, that was depressing. I eat, sleep, drink football with Meath and it was tough at the time. It was tough.”

Although named to face Kildare last month, he was a late omission after something of a freak but equally excruciating injury.

As he explains: “To be honest, I was struggling for a couple of weeks. I had unbelievable blisters on my feet, would you believe. I got a new pair of boots and had unbelievably bad blisters so I missed a bit of training.

“It doesn’t sound too good to be missing training because of blisters but if I got a knife and cut my feet I wouldn’t have done as good a job, it was unbelievable.

“Both heels and my toes, they just wouldn’t heal. So I was happy to play a part coming in the last day.”

It had nothing to do with the 28-year-old’s hurling exertions with Meath this year, which in contrast to the previous two years he pulled himself away from having featured in the league.

Mick O’Dowd never stood in his way of being a dual player, although there aren’t too many in the panel who appreciate what Burke has been doing these last three seasons.

“Sure if a sliotar hits one of those boys on the head they wouldn’t even know what it is, to be honest!” he laughs.

“I just love playing it. To be fair, Micko and the lads have been very good to me, they never came to me and said ‘no, you can’t hurl’.

“Some of the days the Christy Ring games were on were the days I was meant to be resting from the football.”

Whatever about his own dual commitments, he knows the likes of Aidan Walsh are fully capable of juggling both games.

“I heard Dónal Óg Cusack saying you definitely can’t do it. People are bound to say you can’t do it when they are after getting hammered by Kerry in the final. It would have been the best thing since sliced bread if they won the final, ‘the lads are great’.

“He [Walsh] came on and scored three points and was fantastic. Now all of a sudden the talk is they must be tired and so on. I wouldn’t think the boys are even training that hard, it’s more about recovering after the games now.”

Burke is not named to start tomorrow’s final — blasted boots! — but is one of those who has featured in the last two Leinster final bouts with Dublin.

Having lost on each occasion and the fact no Meath team has ever lost three provincial finals, he knows it’s high time they set the record straight.

“You want to start getting a few medals. Obviously, we have one from 2010 but some people kind of, I don’t know what way you put it, question that a wee bit. We definitely want to start getting wins under our belt.”

But the Longwood man is full sure Meath are the better for last year’s game in particular. Not only do they have pace but options on the bench too. As well as himself the last day, Seamus Kenny was introduced from the bench when Kildare were threatening a comeback.

“He is very experienced, and knows how to kind of kill a game and be good on the ball,” says Burke. “It was good to see Adam Flanagan there from Clonard as well.”

But it’s the speed of the forwards that is seen by most as Meath’s sharpest weapon. Burke doesn’t disagree.

“I definitely think there is plenty of pace in the team. Some of the young lads you would be running around after are very quick.

“I know Eamon Wallace is injured but [brother] Joey came in the last day and did a great job. He has serious pace, so does Bryan McMahon. It seems to be all the Ratoath lads — whatever they are feeding them up there, I don’t know!”


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