Daithí Burke joins exclusive company with fifth All-Star

COUNTY semi-final day a few years back in Kenny Park — as almost 9,000 people shuffled through the turnstiles of the Athenry venue — a number of budding young stickmen held court behind the dressing room end goals.

A sign reading “No ball-playing here” or something to that effect (you’ll have to forgive me on the exact wording, it’s been too long since I’ve been there myself) is erected but no sign was going to stop these knee-high hurlers from showcasing his skills prior to the local gladiators bursting out of the dressing rooms and through the yellow steel gates in unison, which separate us mere mortals from those bidding to reach a county senior final.

The kids, aged no more than five or six, warmed themselves up by charging at one another and swinging their hurls manically at sliotars almost the size of their feet. A natural leader — perhaps a future Brian Cody or Micheál Donoghue — among the group decided that wasn’t enough and it was time to pick some teams for a more organised battle.

“I’m TJ!” exclaimed one, pulling up his socks as high as he could. “I’m Joe!”, bellowed another, relieved that no one had gotten there before him. “And I’m Daithí!” confirmed another, leaving no-one within earshot in any doubt as to who he was going to emulate on this sloped field of dreams.

Everyone knew which Daithí that youngster was referring to, even at his tender years. The man who dons the old-school white Jofa helmet, not forgetting the black tape on top and at the back, the colours of his club Turloughmore there for all to see. The physical powerhouse. The warrior. The athlete. The equally adept footballer. And now, the five-time All-Star after last Saturday evening he was announced as a recipient of the award for the fifth time in just six years.

Read the story in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald, on sale in shops and online www.tuamherald.ie