Former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns to stand as a candidate for President of the GAA
FORMER Armagh captain Jarlath Burns will stand as a candidate for President of the GAA.
The Ulster Championship-winning Orchard county skipper told The Irish News that becoming Uachtaran Cumman Luthcleas Gael was “a road he would go down at some stage” and, while he refused to be drawn on when he would run, he added: “possibly sooner rather than later”.
Burns (49) could be among the candidates vying to succeed John Horan’s term in office, which ends in 2020. Dubliner Horan was elected ‘Uachtaran Tofa’ at last month’s GAA Congress and he will familiarise himself with an increasingly-demanding role over the next year before he takes over from Cavan’s Aoghan O Fearghail in 2018.
There’s no doubt that Burns, principal of St Paul's HS in Bessbrook, would bring a very impressive CV to the role if he was elected. As a towering midfielder from the Silverbridge club, he led Armagh to the Ulster Senior Championship in 1999 and was a Sigerson Cup winner with St Mary’s in 1989. Off the field he has undertaken roles at club, county and national level.
His footballing career with Silverbridge continued until last year when he played his final reserve match at the age of 48 and he has also been an underage manager, club chairman and is currently secretary.
At county level, Burns was Armagh’s Central Council delegate from 2010 to 2015 and is now part of a sub-committee working on a strategic plan.
His involvement with the GAA at national level began in 2000 when he was appointed as the first players’ representative to Central Council. Since then he has been involved in Scor, the GAA’s medical and welfare committee, the GAA 125th anniversary committee, the pitch presentations committee and he is currently chairman of the standing committee on playing rules.
If elected, Burns will become the second man from the Orchard County to take the GAA’s top job. The first was Clann Eireann clubman Alf Murray and the Association has been transformed since he held office between 1964 and 1967. This year’s Congress saw a storm of controversy over the introduction of a ‘Super 8’ series, which will replace the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Burns said the hue and cry over the new format brought back memories of the frosty reception the introduction of the ‘mark’ received in some quarters last year.
“There hadn’t even been a ball kicked and there was all sorts of ramifications talked about (the mark) and none of them have happened,” he said.
“I’d say it will be the same with the Super 8. I think people are asking too much of the Championship – they want it to do A, B, C and X, Y and Z.
“We shouldn’t be apologetic for the fact that we want our best teams to contest the All-Ireland semi-final and final. That’s not elitist, that’s the reality of an effective draw.
“The Championship is there to achieve the champions, that’s why it’s called the Championship and we shouldn’t apologise for the fact that we want to ensure that the best teams get closest to the final.”
Burns also defended the GAA against accusations that it has become “all about the money”.
“What’s wrong with exploiting the commercial potential of the Association? We have to do it, we have to. We don’t have an international outlet like the professional games, we don’t have the international money that rugby and soccer has so we have to make sure that we exploit the indigenous capability of our games.
“A few years ago there was a survey done under Nickey Brennan (President 2006-2009) and one of the things that came out it was that the GAA was not properly exploiting it’s commercial potential. Now that we are, we’re being criticised for it.”