Winning All-Ireland at 17, tough love under father and playing alongside four brothers 1 week ago

Winning All-Ireland at 17, tough love under father and playing alongside four brothers

They couldn't escape it in the Burke household.

Hurleys clutter the halls and sliotars roll around every floor waiting to be tripped over. The main chat is hurling chat and if you're ever looking for a puck, there's never any shortage of takers.

Five brothers knocking about and a sister who plays camogie too - they're always up for it and even if none of the siblings are home, you won't have to stray too far either.

Because only the puck of a ball away from the Burkes are the Cooneys, the Regans, the Murrays and the other families that make up St Thomas' GAA club.

This is hurling country.

We all remember 2013. St Thomas' won the All-Ireland senior club hurling final and the Peterswell/Kilchreest club had no fewer than 18 brothers on the squad.

Marty Morrissey was down in their neck of the woods in 2013

Six years on and they're back again for more. A few of the brothers have moved on, from some of the Regans to one of the Burkes but the spine of the team is still there and with a few more gifted youngsters having emerged in the meantime, the hurling is going well again in east Galway.

This Sunday, they'll take on Ruairí Óg Cushendall in the All-Ireland club semi-final in Parnell Park and though his father, the 2013 winning manager John Burke has passed on the managerial book, son Eanna admits that during the ten years he played under him, it never felt like he was being managed by his father.

"Being honest and I know it might seem, a bit whatever, but he did treat us all the same. I never once went out thinking dad is manager, this is great I'll be playing," says the Galway senior panellist.

Indeed, rather than it being a cushy number, Burke admits that it was more of a case of tough love playing for his dad, as an experience during a League game shows.

"They can be (hard on their own), I was thinking there the last day we had a League game once, I was on the frees. We were getting beaten near the finish, I turned around and said 'What will I do with it' from a 21 yard free. He says 'put it over the bar' and I said sound I'm not doing that so I went for a goal. It was blocked and I was taken off. So I asked what was that for and he said 'you didn't do what I told you'. Fair enough so. It probably sent out the right message to the rest of the group."

Burke was only 17 the last time St Thomas' made it to this stage and he'll never forget that famous win - especially given that it came alongside six of his brothers.

"I was 17 at the time, fairytale stuff really. You'd probably never hear of it again, them days are well gone. When you are 17 you think it is going to happen every year, but then you learn the hard way, that isn't how it is. You still have to knuckle down, to get back to work. We are back here again and we will try to learn from the mistakes we made two years ago and take the good from back in 2013, to try to learn to put it right on February 9."

Kevin Lally is the manager now and with the team having coasted to glory in Galway this year, it's fair to say that the fresh voice has drove them on.

"It was a change, I think he (John Burke) was 10 years over the senior team. When you get a fresh voice in, it can give lads a new lease of life. Like you probably see it with Waterford. Derek McGrath mentioned it that he looks at the players and maybe they are a bit more geed up. A fresh voice is never any harm and Kevin is a super manager, he has great pedigree there behind him. He was with Craughwell and Kilnadeema-Leitrim, we will try to hold on to him for another few years if we can," said Eanna.

Eanna has four brothers on the team this time around, with Sean having moved across to water to London and they're all keen to grasp this chance.

"You have five of us still on the panel, Sean the sixth lad is in London working so he obviously can't commit. There is still five of us knocking around.

"He is enjoying himself in London. I'm sure he would love to be hurling with us, but you can't be in two places at the one time.

"That's it, we probably won't have a group of players like this ever again. It is off the back of a group of players that won an Under 12 in '02. Since then we have added a player or two every year. Going forward if we add one or two every year that is massive for a club like us."

Éanna Burke of St. Thomas' ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship Semi-Final taking place at Croke Park on Saturday, February 9th. For exclusive content and behind the scenes action throughout the AIB GAA & Camogie Club Championships follow AIB GAA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.