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Eamonn Burns: Down GAA rocked by sudden passing of double All-Ireland winner

Eamonn Burns won two All Ireland titles with Down in the 1990s.
Eamonn Burns won two All Ireland titles with Down in the 1990s.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Down GAA has been rocked by the sudden passing of former star midfielder Eamonn Burns aged 56.

The Bryansford man won two All-Ireland titles as a player in the 1990s and would go on the manage the team for a three-year spell which ended when he stepped down in summer 2018.

Just last month, Burns and his 1994 title-winning team-mates were back on the Croke Park pitch, introduced to the crowd as the Jubilee team on All Ireland final day, 25 years on from their own success.

"Eamonn has been taken from us too soon, we will miss you Eamonn but we will smile in the memory of the days that you gave us. You were a true son of Down," a Down GAA statement said.

The highlight of his management career was leading his team to the 2017 Ulster final with wins over Armagh and Monaghan but it's those two All Ireland medals that proved his crowning moments in Gaelic football.

During the first victory, when Down shocked favourites Meath in the decider at Croke Park, star midfielder Burns scored two points, including a shot that edged his side into a lead that they would not relinquish, going on to win 1-16 to 1-14.

"It feels fantastic to have won an All-Ireland medal and the enormity of what it means is only beginning to sink in," he told the Hogan Stand after the game.

"I feel very honoured and proud to have played a part in helping the Sam Maguire Cup return to the County Down."

The trophy would return to the Mourne county three years later, when Down saw off Dublin 1-12 to 0-13 in the final as Burns had moved to right half back.

Burns was appointed manager in November 2015 after serving as a selector under James McCartan for two years. At club level, he had managed Ballymartin, Darragh Cross and Tullyish as well as his home club Bryansford, who he guided to Down Senior Championship success.

"After the Championship of 2018, Eamonn resigned as County Senior Team Manager and he did so in a manner fitting of the man, quietly, with dignity, decency and with only the best interests of Down in mind," continued the Down GAA statement.

"Eamonn was a great ambassador for Down as a player and as a manager. He was one of the good guys, always about the greater good, always selfless with his time and only wanting to give of his best in any task that he undertook.

"Down GAA have been privileged to have Eamonn Burns amongst our sons, he gave us as supporters many magical moments, he brought a smile to our faces and in those days of 1991 and 1994 he helped bring us glory days.

"On behalf of the family that is Down GAA we offer our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to Sinead, Cathal, Thomas and to Malachy, Colum, Mary and the Burns and Mullan family circle."

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