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14th Feb 2024

“The thing he said he’ll miss most is meeting up with the lads four times a week.” – Griffin on Burns’ decision to leave Kerry panel

Niall McIntyre

Having been a part of the Kerry senior team since 2018, Micheál Burns, it has been confirmed by Jack O’Connor, has stepped away from the panel due to a lack of game-time.

 The Dr. Crokes forward has been a prominent squad player for Kerry in recent years, having come on as a sub for the Kingdom in the last two All-Ireland finals but that wasn’t enough.

“There comes a time in all careers when you have to make a decision whether the effort is worth the potential reward,” O’Connor told the Irish Examiner on Monday.

“Micheal has come to that stage. He’s 27, and possibly didn’t feel he was getting the game time that was going to keep him happy and motivated.”

In the mean-time, Kerry’s performance coach Tony Griffin has been speaking with Micheál Burns and, ahead of his Laochra Gael on Thursday, he told us about the forwards’ decision to leave the panel.

“You need to know when to let these lads make their decisions,” the former Clare hurling All-Star told us.

“I’d be in regular contact with Micheál, I became very friendly with him. He’s such a lovely fella, heart on his sleeve kind of guy.

“I knew it was coming and I spoke to him last night.

“I was aware he was going to be leaving the panel and he wasn’t getting what he wanted.

“I think it was more mutual than anything so when I knew it wasn’t from one side I decided to just leave him at it and then spoke to him last night,” Griffin says.

In their phone conversation, Griffin warned Burns about the void the decision is going to create in his life. “He could have ups and downs,” said Griffin.

“If you read Dan Carter’s book, and I found it myself, the big part that is so underestimated is when you retire from something you have done all your life and all of a sudden your identity doesn’t have that attached to it, it can leave a massive void.

“Now, I busied myself with other things.

“I’d other things to go onto.

“But the likes of Micheál, he’s a teacher, his world is small without football so we spoke about that last night on the phone, he could have ups and downs.

“It’s part of a grief or a loss. The thing he said he’ll miss most is meeting up with the lads four times a week.”

“Your world gets very small and they move on, it’s very ruthless.”

“The next guy is in and they’re only thinking about their individual performances, they might not have time to meet up with him.

“So I was talking to him about that last night, that it doesn’t mean the friendships are gone and to stay in touch with everyone.

“If you read Dan Carter’s book, he really struggled with that and a lot of athletes do.

“Every player is different and every player hides or shows their inner world differently,” added Griffin, who’s Laochra Gael will be on TG4 this Thursday night.

The Clare-man says that it was evident to him over the last few weeks that Burns wasn’t overly happy in the panel.

“As I said, Micheal’s heart was on his sleeve and you’d probably just have a sense from looking at him.

“Other players then keep it under the lid, and you look at players like Dylan Casey who was injured for a lot of last season and he’d had a great 2022.

“Dylan is a different type of character and just everything is inside and he’s so solid, so players show it differently.

“But if you’re watching; and that’s what my role really is, to kind of sense the mood of things and kind of watch players’ body language and if things don’t go right for them in training or a game, see how they are reacting.

“Some people are an assassin like David (Clifford) is, and they don’t show much and other people show a lot.

“So you are just watching for their body language really.

“But it’s as different as people, your siblings are all different, your friends are all different and players are all very different in how they express how they feel about their careers is different. The trick is to understand that from the start.”

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