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Sudden death of All-Ireland winner Burns rocks Down

 

Sad loss: The death of Eamonn Burns has stunned Down GAA
Sad loss: The death of Eamonn Burns has stunned Down GAA
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The sudden death of Down dual All-Ireland winner and former team manager Eamonn Burns has caused shock reverberations within the GAA.

The Bryansford clubman (56) was an imposing presence at midfield when Down won their fourth All-Ireland crown in 1991 by beating Meath and was to the fore as a dashing wing-back when the Mourne county reigned supreme again in 1994 when they overcame Dublin. Peter McGrath was manager on both occasions with several players turning out in each final.

Burns, an industrious, great-hearted player adhered strongly to the team ethic, rarely if ever seeking the limelight and remained totally committed to his club and county.

Only a matter of weeks ago he was a member of the 1994 Down squad that was feted at both the Ulster and All-Ireland finals to mark the silver jubilee of their dual achievement that year.

Having made a major contribution as a player, Burns subsequently committed himself to management and coaching at club level. He served as a Down selector under former team colleague James McCartan in 2013 and 2014 before taking over the reins himself in 2015.

Although his inter-county managerial career got off to a most inauspicious start with fourteen consecutive defeats, he still managed to guide the side into the 2017 Ulster final in which they lost to Tyrone.

He stepped down as Mourne county boss in July 2018 and was succeeded by present incumbent Paddy Tally.

Down county board chairman Sean Rooney said Burns, a retired teacher, served his county "with admirable pride and dignity".

He went on: "Both as a player and manager, the reputation of his county was paramount. He set a splendid example and did not spare himself in whatever role he pursued. He made a great contribution to the GAA.

"Not only was he a very good player and manager, he was a thoroughly decent person who adhered to his own high principles.

"He shared in one of the most successful periods in the history of Down football and helped to further enhance our All-Ireland dynasty. He will indeed be sadly missed by all who knew him."

To his wife Sinead, sons Cathal and Thomas, brothers Malachy and Colum and sister Mary deepest sympathy is extended on their heartfelt loss.

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