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Playing in the Joe McDonagh Cup — with Meath’s Mickey Burke

Meath hurler Mickey Burke doesn’t understand why they can’t use the yellow sliotar in the Joe McDonagh Cup

Meath and Longwood star Mickey Burke talks about marking Martin ‘Mouse’ Kavanagh and Shane Conway of Carlow and Kerry respectively, and the Royals’ hopes for 2020 ahead of their meeting with neighbours Westmeath.

BY GERARD BROWNE
Meath hurler Mickey Burke doesn’t understand why they can’t use the yellow sliotar in the Joe McDonagh Cup.

The ‘smart ball’ was introduced for the first time this year but only the counties contesting in the All-Ireland SHC can gain access to it.

Burke, who is focusing solely on hurling this year after being let go from Andy McEntee’s football outfit, explains how the players were not even told about this in advance of their opening game.

“My only issue with the Joe McDonagh Cup is we don’t get to use the yellow ball,” outlines the Longwood man.

“Every night before the Kerry game, we were practising with the yellow ball. We went down and played the match with the white sliotar.

“Our captain Seanie Geraghty found out after the match, that it’s only for the top tier.

“It’s so much easier to see and even in training it makes a huge difference.”

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The Royals are operating in the second tier of hurling after winning the Christy Ring Cup last year, but have lost their opening two games versus Kerry and Carlow.

This weekend they face Westmeath in Navan, who are also pointless after two rounds of matches.

The ‘Honeybadger’ is expecting a close contest with their neighbours on Saturday.

“It’s a local derby and this game is up for grabs”, adds Burke. 

“Westmeath have lost two games like ourselves and it’s a home game for us, so I’d be thinking it’s going to be tight.”

Kerry welcome Carlow to Tralee in the other fixture down for decision for this weekend and Burke thinks Carlow could be at a disadvantage with the long commute.

“If you’re looking at a three/four hours journey across the country and then have to play a game, that’s Kerry a point or two up straight away”, states the 35-years-old.

“Brendan Cummins is involved with Kerry and Colm Bonnar is over Carlow, so they are two well-drilled sides.

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“Home advantage might swing it in Kerry’s favour.”

The Joe McDonagh Cup might not get much TV coverage but some of the finest hurlers in the game are playing in this competition.

Two of those individuals are Kerry’s Shane Conway, and Martin ‘Mouse’ Kavanagh from Carlow.

The dual star has marked both of these players and he is full of praise for both.

“They’re very talented, very good stick man and very slick”, says Burke.

“Even their free-taking, they rarely ever miss and it’s up there with TJ Reid or anybody within the country.

“I would nearly call them predators. They’re not the greatest workhorses but they use their energy to win the ball and get scores.”

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