“You just want to do your best and win Ulster...” Armagh defender Paddy Burns only focus is Anglo-Celt decider against Donegal

All-Ireland draw should be left until after provincial finals but it’s not a distraction says Armagh’s Burns

Armagh's Paddy Burns
Paddy Burns has been a consistent and solid presence in Armagh's full-back line this season (Philip Walsh)

WHAT’S the rush? Why make plans for the next competition before the current one has been completed, wonders Armagh defender Paddy Burns, who says it would have made more sense to hold the Sam Maguire series draw until after the provincial finals have been played.

However, Burns stressed that the All-Ireland series group stage selections (made on Wednesday) will not be a distraction in the Orchard county’s preparation for the Ulster final against Donegal.

Burns, who missed last year’s provincial decider against Derry because of injury, says Armagh are solely concerned with ending their 16-year wait for an Ulster title at the minute. They’ll cross the next bridge when they come to it.

“Regardless of the draw, you just want to go out and try to do your best and try to win Ulster,” said the Burren clubman.

“It’s a bit of an irrelevance in a way, because you’re not going to base how you perform in an Ulster final on what’s happening next. To me anyway, it’s probably a bit of an irrelevance.

“Is it a distraction? No. Would it make sense (for the draw to be held after the provincial finals)? Logically, yes.

“But logistically, they have to sort things out I’m sure, so that they have an idea of who’s doing what and who’s going where. I see the merit in it, but I do think it would make more sense to put it after the provincial finals.”

Armagh eased away from Fermanagh at Brewster Park on Sunday. Picture by Philip Walsh
Armagh have beaten Fermanagh and Down to reach the Ulster final. Picture by Philip Walsh

Burns has been a constant on the right side of the Armagh full-back line throughout a season that saw the Orchard county clinch promotion back to Division One and now reach a second Ulster final on-the-trot. Ten games into the season, he sticks with the tried-and-tested GAA mantra: The next game is the only one that matters.

“There has been very little talk about the All-Ireland draw although we haven’t trained too much since Saturday (Ulster semi-final win over Down),” he said.

“We only had a bit of a get together on Tuesday, but legs are sore and fellas are tired, so tonight (Thursday) we will get going again.

“There hasn’t been much of a chat. I think when you’re in a final, those sort of things aren’t really important; you just focus on the next game.

“Maybe that sounds naïve, or you don’t believe that’s the case, but I can tell you that it’s not a conversation that’s had amongst the players.”

Last year Armagh came within a whisker of landing their first Championship title under Kieran McGeeney’s management. A Brendan Rogers goal meant they trailed Derry at half-time but the Orchardmen were the better side in the second half and led during extra-time before a Shane McGuigan-inspired fightback earned the Oak Leafers a penalty shootout.

Goalkeeper Odhran Lynch was the hero for Derry as they retained the Anglo-Celt Cup and pushed on to the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Win or lose on Sunday-week, Armagh are guaranteed a place in the next phase so, for Burns and his team-mates, beating Donegal is all that matters now.

“We’ll just focus on the next game, and we’ll get there afterwards,” he said.

“We’ll look at who we’re playing and where we’re going and if we need hotels booked and all of that after the final.”