July 17, 1992
Wexford keeper David Burke
David Burke's "Stoney" Road has taken him all the way from Urlingford to stand between the Wexford sticks
Wexford's first Leinster senior hurling final appearance in four years ... the first Wexford/Kilkenny provincial decider since 1979 ... and the first minor and senior doubleheader between the counties in a decade and a half ...
Croke Park is going to be some cauldron of excitement on Sunday! - writes Kevin Carney.
For many of the younger Wexford players, this is their Leinster Final debut - a whole new world for them. For most of their younger supporters, the scenario is similar. After all, how many Slaneysiders under the age of 20 can clearly remember their heroes last encounter with the Black and Amber at this stage of the championship?
For one Kilkennyman also, Sunday will be like nothing he's every experienced before. Although he holds provincial and All-Ireland minor and under 21 medals, he's never played in a Leinster senior showdown before and has certainly not done so AGAINST his native county!
The Kilkennyman is, of course, David Burke. Now happily domiciled in New Ross, the Urlingford netminder will trot onto the famous north Dublin sward with the eyes of 40,000 plus people burning his back The enormously attractive looking game features big shots on both sides - but none in quite the position the man they call Stoney finds himself.
Are the Wexford fans all that overjoyed to have someone from another county fill their goals? If there WERE initial doubts, have Burke's displays in the previous rounds against Laois and Dublin banished such feelings?
Would a win for the challengers afford him unbounded pleasure, seeing as how it might well prove Kilkenny wrong for having let him go in the first place? And, in the event of the Yellowbellies' first provincial title in fifteen years, how would the Black and Amber take it if 'one of their own' was to play a major role in the holders' downfall?
Intriguing questions all. The answers should be worth going a long way to find.
Certainly there's no doubt about David Burke's goalkeeping pedigree. His talent enabled him to win an All-Ireland minor medal with Kilkenny in 1981 when they defeated Galway, and an under 21 souvenir three years later against Tipperary at Waterford. Then there was an All-Ireland junior medal four years ago (a narrow dismissal of Tipperary at Portlaoise) and, on the bench, Leinster senior (1987) and Royal Liver NHL (1990 - against Wexford ironically!) mementoes.
An accomplished goalkeeper? You bet.
Tom Ryall's definitive history - Kilkenny: The GAA Story 1884 - 1984 gives the former Emeralds of Urlingford clubman more than one honourable mention. Ten years ago, for example, he was captain when Johnstown VS became the first Kilkenny side to capture the All-Ireland individual Vocational Schools senior title. After Banagher were seen off in Leinster, Bandon provided the opposition in the national decider at Emly. Johnstown ran out comfortable 3-7 to 2-3 victor's and, history records, David "had a great game in goal."
A year earlier he'd similarly been one of the key figures as the Black and Amber took the All-Ireland minor crown for the twelfth time. Galway were the opponents, and led by 3-5 to 1-8 at the interval following goals by Anthony Cunningham and Eanna Ryan. But with future county players Ray Heffernan, Liam McCarthy, Mick Morrissey and John McDonald in top form, the Cats turned around in the second half, hitting five late points on the trot to win by 1-20 to 3-9. The champions' goalkeeper "made some fantastic saves in the first half", according to Tom Ryall's tone.
In the wake of the under 21 triumph of 1984 and Noel Skehan's retirement as Kilkenny's senior custodian, the way was wide open for David Burke to assume the mantle of the famous Bennetabridge man. A long and successful career seemed assuredly his, especially after a pleasing NHL campaign in late 1984 and early 1985.
It all went horribly wrong against Offaly in the 1985 Leinster semi final replay, a bad mistake by the new boy gifting the Midlanders the decisive only goal of a tight encounter. Kilkenny were out. Padraig Horan and pals were on the way to another provincial trophy and subsequently, a second Liam McCarthy. David Burke, as it turned out, never really received a sustained opportunity to make up for that error.
For the rest of the 1980s he was in and out, off and on. Sometimes on the subs bench, sometimes not even on the panel. Kevin Fennelly held down the number one jersey for most of the next five years, with Adrian Ronan and DJ Carey also appearing from time to time before Michael Walsh became the long term replacement.
"All the way up from underage, Stoney was always a first class goalkeeper," Noel Skehan acknowledges. "At this stage of his career, he's very experienced and is just what Wexford need - they've not really had a quality goalie since John Nolan retired, I feel.
"David's reflexes are very sharp - always there - and he's smart around the square, doesn't let too much develop. He definitely couldn't be blamed for any of the goals that beat him against Dublin the last day.
"His ball control is crisp, and he's always had a knack of making brilliant saves. Having said all that, though, I hope he doesn't go and help Wexford beat Kilkenny on Sunday."
After understudying Kevin Fennelly during the triumphant league campaign of 1990, a further meal arrived that autumn when Mooncoin - whom he had moved to from Emeralds - won the county intermediate hurling championship. A couple of runs followed early in the new league before Burke lost his place and with it any prospect of a return to the county jersey.
He's now hurling with the Rathgarogue-Cushinstown club (Eamon Cleary is team manager) and joined the Wexford senior set up earlier this year on foot of, reportedly, a number of requests from the powers that be there.
Cast off by Kilkenny. Welcomed by Wexford. Now in a fighting chance of an achievement he must have thought he would never get a sniff of again.
Will there be a happier man than David Burke if the Slaneysiders win on Sunday?
Taken from Hogan Stand magazine
17th July 1992
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