‘I might be kicked out of the WhatsApp group’ - Armagh and Burren defender Paddy Burns on playing against Down

Corner-back will come up against club-mates in Ulster semi-final against Mournemen

Paddy Burns Armagh
Armagh corner-back Paddy Burns (right) plays his club football with Burren in Co Down Picture: Philp Walsh

“I might be kicked out of the WhatsApp group for a few weeks,” laughed Armagh and Burren defender Paddy Burns after the Orchard County set up an Ulster semi-final date against rivals Down with their 11-point win over Fermanagh.

Burns, who won a Junior Championship title for Forkhill in 2020, lined out for his adopted club Burren in the Down SFC final last season when Jim McCorry’s men were overturned by kingpins Kilcoo.

He’ll come up against club teammates like Liam Kerr and Odhran Murdock, but that’s for two week’s down the line. On Sunday, Burns was just happy to leave Brewster Park with a comfortable victory, a rarity for Armagh.

“I think I said it after the league game (against Fermanagh), it’s never an easy place for us to come,” said Burns, who made his county debut against Down back in the 2018 McKenna Cup.

“We’ve come here for years and always got it tight so it’s nice in the second half to not be panicking as much and nervous about it coming down the home stretch. It’s a good start but that’s all it is, it’s a start but there’s plenty more to happen yet.”

Three first half goals were key for Kieran McGeeney’s men as they essentially had the game done and dusted by the time the half time whistle sounded.

Two of those majors came during the ten-minute period when Fermanagh dangerman Ultan Kelm was in the sinbin for deliberately dragging down Andrew Murnin and Armagh took full advantage of the extra man.

“I’m not sure what was more beneficial, Ultan is obviously a bit of an engine for them, and he’s got a lot of pace and gets a lot of their scores,” added Burns. “Him going off was definitely a bit of a boost and then the boys taking the goals.

Armagh's Paddy Burns impressed as Burren got the better of Glenn in the Down SFC semi-final
Paddy Burns played in last year's Down SFC final for Burren against Kilcoo

“I think Jarly Og’s was fortuitous enough, he got the wee soccer tap in,” laughed Burns of his younger cousin’s three-pointer.

“Things like that maybe didn’t fall for us in the past and we got that bit of luck and got the goals.

“There were fellas coming off the shoulder, there was always someone at the back post to palm it in, men finishing them off. Both of those things, the black card and the goals gave us that bit of breathing space.

“You never come out assuming you’re going to win (after half time), we knew that there was work to be done to close out the game, but it did give us that bit of breathing room that we could play our game and they had to come out.”

Burns started all eight of Armagh’s league games and even kicked a point against Meath in round two. He was on the field as they lost out in the Division Two final against Donegal, so getting back to winning ways was important.

“There’s no feeling like winning and you very quickly forget about those things whenever you get a few wins under your belt, but they still fuel you, nobody likes losing especially finals at Croke Park.

“We’d be keen to hopefully get back there at some stage and rectify that but it’s good to get a win, get the momentum going again, get the happiness in the camp and on we go.”

All the focus will turn to Conor Laverty’s Down now, and Burns will enjoy the build-up.

“It’s going to be a bit of craic I’m sure, I’ll have to avoid club training for a couple of weeks and not show my face in Burren, but it’ll be a bit of a laugh, there’ll be a bit of slagging.”