Sus­tain­able pro­mo­tion is key for Burke

Meet the new Wick­low boss

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE

WICK­LOW’S new foot­ball man­ager Davy Burke was in Aughrim on Sun­day last to wit­ness two very en­ter­tain­ing bat­tles be­tween Dunlavin and Kil­coole and the thriller be­tween Bless­ing­ton and AGB in the Se­nior.

In be­tween those games, the Con­fey na­tive agreed to sit down and have a chat about his life in the GAA and what brought him to the Gar­den County and what his hopes and am­bi­tions are with this Wick­low team that failed to de­liver un­der John Evans.

‘Why Wick­low? It’s Di­vi­sion 4 foot­ball. I think it’s a com­pet­i­tive level of foot­ball. I think a bit of or­gan­i­sa­tion and struc­ture can go a very, very long way at that level. There’s also a cou­ple of de­cent young teams that Kevin (O’Brien) has had in the last cou­ple of years. I had first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of one of them when I was man­ag­ing Kil­dare, so I see that there’s def­i­nitely po­ten­tial com­ing through there.

‘This year with the likes of Derry go­ing up out of Di­vi­sion 4, too, it’s very, very com­pet­i­tive and open league there I would say.

‘For a va­ri­ety of those rea­sons I’m just mad to get stuck in.,’ said Davy.

It be­comes very clear very quickly that Davy Burke is a man with an eye for de­tail. His pro­gres­sion through a va­ri­ety of teams and the suc­cess that has fol­lowed him sug­gests that he leaves no stone un­turned in search­ing and chas­ing the very high­est stan­dards pos­si­ble.

Hav­ing only re­cently turned his at­ten­tion to Wick­low, what are his thoughts on the county team.

‘I haven’t been keep­ing that de­tail of knowl­edge, but I have been watch­ing it more and more as the in­ter­est grew in it. There’s 100 per cent more room for im­prove­ment. Ob­vi­ously, last year in Net­watch Cullen Park they ran Kil­dare close so there’s huge room for im­prove­ment and with the bit of youth com­ing through as well can push the Se­nior boys on as well, es­pe­cially if they’re get­ting de­cent coach­ing and ev­ery­thing else, they’ll seam­lessly fall into the Se­nior team as well.

And what can he bring to the set up him­self?

‘Hope­fully my ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ve a pretty good level of ex­pe­ri­ence. I would pride my­self on or­gan­i­sa­tion, struc­ture, re­ally get­ting lads bought in, and get­ting lads play­ing to a cer­tain type of plan, what­ever that plan may be, it’ll vary. Ob­vi­ously, there’s a generic struc­ture that you’ll get to play but you’ll tin­ker and tailor that de­pend­ing on what out­fit you’re com­ing up against.

‘I would feel that I’m a very or­gan­ised per­son, I think play­ers can re­ally buy into that be­cause there’s lives out­side of this, there’s fam­i­lies out­side of this. If you know what you’re go­ing to be do­ing for the next month or five weeks I think it’s eas­ier. And me per­son­ally, I can go home to the wife or what­ever it might be and say, ‘this is our plan for the next six weeks, all those days off, they’re off and they’re guar­an­teed to be off. I tend to find things like that, as an ex­am­ple, work re­ally well for play­ers, man­age­ment, back­room, for ev­ery­body, and we can do as lit­tle as pos­si­ble last-minute changes to dis­rupt ev­ery­thing. So, or­gan­i­sa­tion I think would be a huge one and you’d be sur­prised how much that’s lack­ing in some places.

‘I think I’m very much in touch to what the mod­ern-day player wants and needs. There’s a bal­ance be­tween the older style and the newer style and I think I have a fine bal­ance be­tween the two of them. Whereas I think some coaches might be gone mad into the new style and all the science be­hind ev­ery­thing which is very much im­por­tant but there’s also a huge as­pect of the older school that is very im­por­tant as well. I would like to think that I’ve got a nice bal­ance in be­tween the two and there’s a ne­ces­sity for the newer model but also for the older model.

‘One of my big­gest strengths, I be­lieve, is that I can kind of think sim­i­larly to a player. Even dur­ing the year, we might have a pitch ses­sion sched­uled or a gym ses­sion sched­uled, what­ever we might have sched­uled, but I might be able to change that where it might not be ap­pro­pri­ate. You might be com­ing in on the back of a win or a loss, what­ever you are, and I might just think I’ll switch that to some­thing else. I be­lieve I can un­der­stand, be­cause, what are you look­ing at now, lads are any­where be­tween 18 and 31 or 32 (years of age), gen­er­ally, that’s what you’re look­ing at, ob­vi­ously there’s a few out­side of that. So, I like to be­lieve that I can think more like those guys and gen­er­ally happy and a happy team is a more pro­duc­tive team, you know your­self,’ he added.

Davy played with Con­fey as a young­ster but picked up a bag knee in­jury at 14 and then shat­tered his kneecap at 15, bring­ing an end to his ca­reer. For­tu­nately for Wick­low, as Davy him­self ex­plains, that’s the rea­son why he is now the new Wick­low Se­nior foot­ball man­ager.

‘Never much good (as a player), he said jok­ingly. ‘I was al­right. I picked up my first knee in­jury at 14, cleared it up and then shat­tered my knee at 15. Ac­tu­ally, I have a plas­tic kneecap, so fin­ished since I was 15, so there’s not a very long-win­der an­swer to this one.

‘That’s ul­ti­mately why I’m sit­ting here to­day, be­cause from 15 I would lit­er­ally have got in­volved in our Féile team and went on and on from there into ladies foot­ball and wher­ever else I went. That’s why at a young enough age I’m here, be­cause I fin­ished early and it’s in the fam­ily and you had no choice but to go to the pitch. Just be­cause I couldn’t train my­self didn’t mean I couldn’t get up and learn. I think I was the youngest ever Award 1 level coach­ing re­cip­i­ent, I think I was 17, so all that kind of ties in then,’ he said.

We asked Davy to take us on a road trip of his coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘I didn’t man­age the Féile team but the first proper gig I had was in 2008, I would have taken the Se­nior ladies in my club, ac­tu­ally, and we ac­tu­ally done quite well, won two Se­nior ti­tles ina row, first time ever, and ac­tu­ally that team has gone on to dom­i­nate ladies foot­ball in Kil­dare, very close to a good Fox/Cab team there in Dublin, so they’re a very good team.

From that I got in­volved in the Kil­dare Mi­nor ladies for a few years. From there, I moved into as­sis­tant man­ager with the Dublin Se­nior ladies where we were two years in a row in All-Ire­land fi­nals against prob­a­bly the best fe­male team of all time in the Cork ladies.

‘I was also in­volved in Maynooth Univer­sity with Siger­son foot­ball, Trin­ity with Siger­son foot­ball, Trin­ity Se­nior ladies. Then I went back and man­aged my home club, Con­fey, for two years in 16/17 and we had de­cent suc­cess with them as well. We’d be a small parish. Leixlip would be a big town but there’s two clubs in Leixlip, and we’d be strug­gling for num­bers at un­der­age, but we’d have a very com­pet­i­tive Se­nior team, but now there’s a cou­ple of re­tire­ments com­ing and it’s just hard num­bers wise.

From there I went into the Kil­dare un­der-20s and had a rea­son­ably good year with them (won the All-Ire­land ti­tle) and from then I went to Sars­fields Se­nior foot­ballers who I’m still in­volved with and we’ve a big game next Satur­day, and now I’m here in Aughrim,’ he added.

If Davy likes or­gan­i­sa­tion in his man­age­ment style and ca­reer, then it comes as no sur­prise that it’s the same in his pro­fes­sional life.

‘I work in Dublin City Cen­tre, I man­age seven or eight prop­er­ties, they’re pri­vately owned but they would be leased out of Dublin City Coun­cil, so they’d have all sorts of dif­fer­ent ten­ants from cou­ples to fam­i­lies to long-term rentals and I would man­age them from day to day. It’s busy enough day, busy enough week ev­ery week. I en­joy the lo­gis­tics and all that sort of thing. For any par­ties I’m des­ig­nated to or­gan­ise all that sort of thing. I’d be very par­tic­u­lar. I’d like things to be done right, you see, so they’d know I’d be giv­ing out if it’s wrong.

‘It’s busy but I love be­ing busy. I like be­ing on the go. You’ll see my style on the side­line, you’ll hear me be­fore you’ll see me. I’m al­ways buzzing around the place. My coach­ing would be very up­beat,’ he said.

The big is­sue for Wick­low is get­ting out of Di­vi­sion 4. With­out pro­mo­tion the sup­port­ers will feel there is lit­tle room for hope or op­ti­mism and this pre­vail­ing air of neg­a­tiv­ity and ap­a­thy in the county will never be shifted. Davy Burke agrees whole­heart­edly that pro­mo­tion is key, but he adds that be­ing able to main­tain life in Di­vi­sion 3 is just as im­por­tant.

‘Ab­so­lutely. With the talk about cham­pi­onship struc­ture, that’s very much sec­ondary in my mind. It’s all up in the air for ev­ery­body. Di­vi­sion 4 and pro­mo­tion is ab­so­lutely front and cen­tre for me. Wick­low need to get out of Di­vi­sion 4 to be play­ing at a higher level of foot­ball, a more com­pet­i­tive level of foot­ball, and Di­vi­sion 3 is that. So, the key for me would be get out as soon as pos­si­ble, but you need to main­tain that.

‘There were dif­fer­ent coun­ties who came up re­cently and went straight back down again. For me, ob­vi­ously year one, bang, let’s get out of Di­vi­sion 4, but you have to be in a po­si­tion to be able to main­tain it. So, if it took two years, then get pro­mo­tion and in the third year you stay in Di­vi­sion 3, I think that would be a big­ger suc­cess than pro­mo­tion in the first year and com­ing straight back down.

‘The only thing about that, and you asked me why I’m here, if we were to get out this year, for ex­am­ple get pro­moted this year, then you’d hope that a cou­ple of those younger guys would be a year fur­ther on, more de­vel­oped, bet­ter con­di­tioned, etc, etc, etc, to maybe link in and push you on again. It’s all about Di­vi­sion 4, it has to be.

What are his thoughts on the pro­posed tiered cham­pi­onship?

‘I wouldn’t be the big­gest fan of it. I think there are far big­ger is­sues that should be ad­dressed in the GAA it­self be­fore. I wouldn’t be the big­gest fan of it. I be­lieve ev­ery team should be try­ing to win Sam Maguire, I be­lieve ev­ery team should be go­ing out and try­ing to get to Croke Park in the gen­uine ‘A’ cham­pi­onship or what­ever you want to call it, so, in my per­sonal opin­ion, I’m not the big­gest fan.

‘Hav­ing said all that, and it kind of brings it back to Di­vi­sion 4 again, I be­lieve that when we get go­ing on the 25th of Jan­uary, or when­ever the first round of the league is, that’s your cham­pi­onship, to be hon­est with you. And I think a lot of coun­ties are in that same boat. To me there seems to be one team in one tier and Dublin are out on their own. You can make two tiers if you want to make two tiers, but you prob­a­bly need three or four tiers, re­ally. I don’t think the two-tier is the an­swer. What is the an­swer, I prob­a­bly don’t have the an­swer to that ei­ther? Dublin are so far ahead of ev­ery­one else, I’m not sure the cre­ation of a sec­ond tier is the an­swer,’ he said.

Our time is up with Davy. Bless­ing­ton and AGB are about to get un­der­way for their epic clash. We throw one fi­nal ques­tion at him re­gard­ing se­lec­tors.

‘Not just yet, but close. There is a good bit of work go­ing on in the back­ground and it will be brought for­ward but not just yet. I’ve kind of got the next week or two to box off all that with a view to get­ting go­ing in early Novem­ber, and we will be get­ting go­ing in early Novem­ber. That will be done very soon,’ he added.

Wick­low need to get out of Di­vi­sion 4 to be play­ing at a higher level of foot­ball, a more com­pet­i­tive level of foot­ball

New Wick­low foot­ball man­ager Davy Burke in Aughrim last Sun­day.

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