The untimely passing of Michael ( Mick) Burke, Drumminwonagh, Westport and formerly of Tourmakeady, recalls a glorious era in the history of Kilmeena G.A.A. Club….Mick, the footballer, Mick, the Manager and in the unanimous opinion of those who knew him well…Mick the Gentleman.
Mick played with his native Tourmakeady and won an All Ireland Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta medal in 1973. He donned the Kilmeena black and white jersey in the early 1980’s and completed the full forward lineout with teammates Michael Keane and Dermot Flaherty. They formed a formidable trio and another former teammate, Michael Ryan, compared them to “the front row on the Irish Rugby Team”.
As a manager, Mick was exceptionally astute and matched skillsets to perfection. He was a natural motivator and conversationalist which always ensured a positive response from his panel of players. Mick experienced many fine hours on the line as he witnessed his V.E.C. Senior Squad crowned All Ireland Champions in 1982. He had further success in 1985 when his Mayo Minor team beat Cork to lift the Tommy Markham Cup in Croke Park. His managerial hand of victory also reached to Kilmeena G.A.A. in 1986 as the Club and parish celebrated a County Junior Championship title. Mick was also a selector with Mayo senior team and manager of Burrishoole senior team for a number of years.
While the annals of Kilmeena G.A.A. Club will record the County Junior Championship title in 1986, only those who knew Mick well can relate the stories of his unique personality. His athletic physique and commanding presence concealed the kind-hearted, sociable, witty, amenable and loyal person that manifested Mick Burke. His social occasions always included his two favourite songs, “Raglan Road” and “Boys of Barr na Sráide” Precious moments in time that have now become treasured memories.
Mick, you brought glory, pride and joy to Kilmeena G.A.A. Club. May you now have received the ultimate accolade of Eternal Peace. Slán Abhaile a Mhíchíl agus buíochas leat.
Thanks to Clair Ryan with assistance from Michael Ryan and Kevin Barrett for composing this piece.