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Tue, May
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2001 league win ‘surreal’ for Burke

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VICTORY MARCHPeter Burke is pictured marching behind Mayo captain Noel Connelly before the start of the 2001 National Football League Final win over Galway. Pic: Sportsfile

Peter Burke recalls Mayo’s National League win in 2001

Interview
Mike Finnerty

ANOTHER week and another anniversary milestone rolls around.
This week it’s Mayo’s National League win of 2001 but the team’s goalkeeper, Peter Burke, can be forgiven for not having the date marked in his diary.
Nineteen years have passed and the man from Cloondace, outside Knock, has been busy in the meantime; getting married, having children and running a roofing business with Ollie Feeney from Islandeady. Not to mention being the Mayo senior team’s goalkeeping coach for eight seasons from 2011 until 2018.
So when you ask the two-time Connacht championship medal winner about his memories of that 0-13 to 0-12 win over Galway at Croke Park on April 29, 2001 he takes a few moments to gather his thoughts.
“I remember it was all a bit surreal, the Hogan Stand was under construction so it wasn’t anything like the times I’d played there in the championship in either ‘97 or ’99,” he recalled.
“It meant we couldn’t climb the steps of the Hogan, but it was still one of the proudest moments of my career. Although I’d still have swopped it for an All-Ireland!” he laughed.”
The story of the game itself is fairly easily told.
Mayo conceded three points in the opening four minutes and were a point down at half-time. By the 47th minute, it was 12-9 to Galway, but Mayo got the last four scores, and Marty McNicholas’s 67th minute point proved to be the winner for Pat Holmes’ charges.
“I’ve never watched the match back, although I have seen the highlights once or twice,” said Peter Burke. “From what I can remember it wasn’t a great game.
“I remember we brought the cup down to Hill 16 and really enjoyed the moment, but there were no celebrations afterwards or anything like that, we came straight home afterwards. I’m not sure why, but I travelled home by car to Mayo that evening and I was at work the following day.”
The main reason for Mayo’s muted celebrations was the fact that the countdown was on to their Connacht championship semi-final against Sligo six weeks later.
The decision not to have a homecoming didn’t sit well with everyone outside the Mayo camp, but it was vindicated when they advanced to the provincial final after a nail-biting one point victory over the Yeats County.
Unfortunately, a late goal from Gerry Lohan meant Roscommon pulled off a ‘smash and grab’ Connacht Final upset in early July, and Mayo’s season ended with a one point loss to Westmeath back at Hyde Park three weeks later.
“I don’t know why we didn’t drive on that summer,” mused Burke.
“We beat Sligo by a point, lost to Roscommon in the Connacht Final by a point, and lost to Westmeath in the Qualifiers by a point.
“I think, in hindsight, that Roscommon game took a lot out of us.”
When the dust had settled in 2001, he recalls bringing the National League trophy back home to Knock for a few photographs with his family.
Last spring his own children were with him in the Cusack Stand as the former Ireland International Rules goalkeeper watched Mayo win that same trophy for the first time since his own days.
He was struck by the way Mayo celebrated their win over Kerry on the field after the match and noted ‘all the emotions that go with it’. It was the same — but different – to 2001.
“Winning that league is definitely up there for me,” he admitted.
“I was lucky enough to win Connacht medals in 1997 and 1999 but that league was the only national title I won during my career. So it was some sort of reward for all of us after we retired, even though we were all after ‘the big one’.”

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