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Donegal Intermediate Champions Are An Example To The Entire GAA With Celebrations

Donegal Intermediate Champions Are An Example To The Entire GAA With Celebrations
Conall Cahill
By Conall Cahill
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Donegal GAA club Burt GAC are living proof that the spirit of the GAA is still alive and kicking.

On Saturday, Burt won the Donegal Intermediate Football Championship for the first time in the club's history, beating Milford in a replay that went to extra time.

Here's Burt's Ciaran Dowds after their Intermediate title win.

But because of outrageous fixture arrangement, Burt faced county Down club Bredagh this afternoon - less than 24 hours after winning the Donegal title - in the Ulster quarter-final.

It's baffling that a club could be asked to play a quarter-final on the same weekend of winning a final, but such is the madness of GAA fixtures.

Now, in the modern GAA, with its drink bans and its professional set-ups even at club level, one might expect that the Burt lads would be told to head off, get their post-match shakes and energy drinks into them and have a relaxing ice bath before heading to bed nice and early. Perhaps nodding off watching detailed video analysis of their opponents and waking up the next morning bright and early to a bowl of porridge, a banana and positive visualisation techniques.


No fear for the Burt lads. Speaking to Burt GAC PRO Damien Dowds before the game this afternoon, Balls.ie asked what the players had got up to after the final. Did management issue strict instructions to the players that not a drop of drink was to be taken? Were spies sent out to local pubs to keep watch for potential indiscretions?

Not a hope.

Last night, the way we left it was, 'Look boys, go and do whatever it is you're gonna do tonight. Just make sure youse are there for the bus (in the morning). We don't care.

Look, they were out last night, they were having a few drinks, that's fair enough. What can you do? First time winners, what else are you gonna do?

Last night the players were told, they could go and celebrate as they wished - and just make sure you're there for the bus. That's all we told them.

And did players take management up on that offer?


Oh, they did, aye. Oh, aye. And they were told to do it. Just turn up today for the bus.

Dowds said he was "raging" about the situation the club finds itself in, that "we can't properly go out and represent ourselves and the county as county champions", and said the club (and Milford) had tried to get in touch with the Ulster Council to get the fixture changed but had been "stonewall ignored" (we reached out to the Ulster Council for comment on the crazy fixture set up and are awaiting response). His biggest wish before the quarter-final was that "nobody gets hurt".

But isn't it great that, despite being screwed over by the arrangement of fixtures, Burt GAC saw beyond that, saw beyond the need to win a match, and realised the importance to a group of men like the Burt team of celebrating something they had worked so hard to achieve.


And, at a time when it seems we can lose perspective on what the GAA is really all about, the example of Burt GAC is beautifully refreshing.

They lost 2-10 to 0-3 to Bredagh today. But they had a day to remember yesterday - and that will be theirs for the rest of their lives.

(Picture credit: Cieran Kelly)


SEE ALSO: 'I'm An Average Footballer' - Kieran Donaghy Offers Brutally Honest Appraisal Of His Career



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