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Mick Burke was no ordinary manager

Sport

A MOMENT IN TIME Mayo minor manager Mick Burke (RIP, left) celebrates with Johnny French after the 1985 All-Ireland Minor Final. Pic: Frank Dolan

Mike Finnerty

WE were sorry to hear of the passing of Mick Burke from Tourmakeady last week.
The man who managed Mayo to win the 1985 All-Ireland Minor Final, and did it in his own inimitable style, left a lasting impression on all those who knew him.
Ten years ago Mick spent an hour in The Mayo News offices during the build-up to the 2009 All-Ireland Minor Final between Mayo and Armagh, and we chatted about that magical, memorable summer of ’85.
It was fascinating to hear Mick quietly reminisce and reflect back on that Mayo Minor team, about ‘the great spirit’ they had showed on their way to beating Cork in the final, and how he’d never forget the moment when the final whistle blew.
“They’re all good memories from 1985,” he smiled.
Mick Burke was also, of course, the man delivered the line, ‘You can only dance with the girls in the hall’ to describe how he had assembled a panel of teenagers who had qualified for a shot at the All-Ireland Final.
He knew they might not have been the most talented group of footballers who ever togged out for Mayo, but they ‘had a great spirit and good craic.
They also had some brilliant individuals who were ‘mature leaders’ as Mick described them; he specifically name-checked Greg Maher, Michael John Mullin and the captain, Michael Fitzmaurice.
“We were a lucky team too” added Burke, with a twinkle in his eye.
“We got one change against that Cork team. If we met them again six times, they would have beaten us six times. But they didn’t beat us on the day. So many things went right for us. We knew we just had to be right for one game. For one hour.”
Mick Burke’s role in Mayo’s 1985 success will stand the test of time, as will the part he played in winning a Connacht Junior Cup medal with Westport RFC ten years earlier.
Ar dheis Dé do raibh a anam.