Twenty years is a long time in any individual’s journey through life. And 1989 seems like a different planet compared to some of the advances and negatives that we have experienced in the country over the past two decades.
Cork won the football All-Ireland that year. Mayo will feel that they should have, if Anthony Finnerty’s genuine goal chance had flashed into the net. It was also the year of the famous “Keady Affair” in hurling. Names like Pat Fox, Larry Tompkins, John Kerins RIP, the Bonnars, and the only man to win a senior football and hurling All-Ireland in the same year,Teddy McCarthy, were idols to look up to and the Irish soccer chant of “Ole, Ole, Ole” was only in its infancy.
Those sports stars inspired many youngsters, and some of them are still following in their footsteps - playing and winning titles at the top level. Corofin stalwart and wing-forward Trevor Burke is one such example.
Burke will again go into action with his club this Sunday two decades after he made his senior debut in the county semi-final against Annaghdown, at the tender age of sweet 16.
Twenty years on he is still going strong and hopes to collect his ninth county senior medal with his beloved club at Pearse Stadium this Sunday afternoon when they take on the highly rated Cortoon Shamrocks who are inspired by former All-Star and double All-Ireland winner Galway Derek Savage.
Burke won his first senior award in 1991 against a star-studded Salthill side and two years ago in 2006 he annexed his eighth medal when defeating Caltra in a county final.
So what’s the secret?
“I have been lucky enough to have avoided any serious injuries which can finish a lot of careers when guys get a bit older. I did hurt my back when I was 23, but I did a lot of core work to try to get over that problem, and while it is still sore on and off, I am nearly immune to the pain from it now.
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And I am delighted to be still involved. From a selfish point of view it is a great way to keep the weight down and like a lot of ex-footballers, ( he smiles and nods in the direction of my midriff ), I have a tendency to balloon if I don’t keep myself in reasonable shape.”
During the close season with GAA he plays indoor soccer and lines out with Corofin United.
“You have to keep the engine ticking over and if you take a few months off completely, it can be very hard to get back the following year. You have to mind yourself and take care of your body and pace yourself. When you have been around a while, you learn to time your run.”
Three other major advantages for Burke is that he lives near the pitch which allows him to leave home and be on the field within five minutes. Secondly, he has worked in Galway city with Merit Medical for most of his working life which cuts out the long commutes from the likes of Dublin or Cork that finish many a club career. Thirdly, and most importantly, his wife Angela supports his playing career.
They have two young children, Emma who is two and a half, and Aoife who is one. “Without Angela being so supportive, it would be practically impossible to keep going. It can be difficult to keep everything going with both of us working full-time, but unless your partner supports you, it would be impossible.”
Most commentators would consider Burke one of the best wing-forwards in the county during the 1990s and he was on the Galway panel for a few months under John O’Mahony in early 1998. Has he any regrets about not being involved that September?
“No. Not really. I pulled out of the panel in the spring and I don’t lose any sleep over it. These things happen and that’s life. It’s water under the bridge now and it allowed me to give a greater effort with the club, which is perhaps one of the reasons why I am still involved.”
He has played under his fair share of managers - Cathal Furey, Ollie Burke, Ger Hanley, Tony Murphy, Paul McGettigan, Tom Greaney, and now Jimmy Sice.
He is full of praise for these men. “At club level, a lot of people put in an enormous amount of work for the love of football and the club and that is what makes clubs so strong. The same thing is happening down in Cortoon and that is why they are going so well this year too.”
Burke has played in 10 county finals and only lost two, so he knows what is required to get over the end line this weekend.
“Cortoon are a very fine side. They have a super work-rate all over the team and we will have to be at our very best to beat them. The only thing that matters to me is that next Sunday we have another county title back in the club. You would love to be on the starting 15, but if you’re not, you have to accept that and try to do your best for the team if you get the call-up.”
Win or lose next Sunday, to be still playing senior football 20 years after your debut is a tremendous achievement and one that should be applauded.
TREVOR BURKE'S INVOLVEMENT IN COUNTY FINALS SINCE 1989:
1990 - Beaten by Salthill
1991 - Defeated Salthill (1 )
1993 - Defeated Salhtill (2 )
1994 - Beaten by Tuam
1995 - Defeated Tuam (3 )
1997 - Defeated Dunmore McHales (4 )
1998 - Defeated Carraroe (5 )
2000 - Defeated Killanin (6 )
2002 - Defeated Annaghdown (7 )
2006 - Defeated Caltra (8 )
2008 - To be decided