DOWN GAA has been “rocked” by the news that former Down manager and double All Ireland winner, Eamonn Burns, has died.
County secretary, Sean Og McAteer was speaking after Mr Burns’ death was announced on Wednesday.
Described by Mr McAteer as “one of our most favourite sons”, he expressed sympathy to his wife Sinead, sons Cathal and Thomas, brothers Malachy and Colum and sister Mary
Mr Burns was a double All Ireland medal winner and a former County Senior Team Manager.
“Eamonn Burns was the youngest of three brothers who all would wear the green and gold of Bryansford and the Red and Black of Down,” Mr McAteer wrote on the county board’s website.
“Having graduated through the ranks Eamonn made his senior county debut in 1987/88 and will be best remembered as midfielder on the All-Ireland winning team of 1991. Down fans will remember Eamonn’s two points from play in that win over Meath as Sam Maguire returned North for the first time in 23 years.
“In 1994, Eamonn was once again to the fore, this time at right half back on the team that defeated Dublin playing through the pain barrier to ensure that his beloved Down made it five All Ireland titles.
“Indeed, it is only a few short weeks ago that Eamonn and the boys of 1994 once again adorned the sward of Croke Park as they were introduced to the crowd as the Jubilee team of 25 years ago on All Ireland Final day.
“After his distinguished playing career with both club and county, Eamonn took on coaching and managerial roles guiding Bryansford to a Down Senior Championship success.
“In 2015 when Jim McCorry had resigned as Down Senior Football team manager Eamonn Burns stepped up to the mark and took on the role of County Senior Football team manager. For Eamonn it was a case of serving his county when he was needed and at a time when Down football was not enjoying the best of fortune, Eamonn Burns remained a dignified figure at all times who only ever gave of his very best in the cause of Down.
“In 2017 there were memorable days as relegation was avoided in Cork and the Ulster Championship saw us record victories over Armagh in Newry and on a particularly special night in the Athletic Grounds a win over Monaghan and against all the odds Eamonn Burns had guided Down back to an Ulster Final.
“Success was to elude us against Tyrone but pride had been restored in our County in no small way due to the efforts of Eamonn Burns, a man who himself had great pride in the Red and Black.”
Mr Burns resigned as County manager in 2018, doing so “in a manner fitting of the man, quietly, with dignity, decency and with only the best interests of Down in mind”, Mr McAteer added.
“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.
“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.”