GAA Football

Former Dublin captain Paddy Christie in Burren corner for Kilcoo showdown

Burren defeated defending champions Kilcoo in last year's Down championship final. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

PADDY Christie will be in the stand at Croke Park this evening, but on Monday night he will be in the Burren dugout when they lock horns with rivals Kilcoo.

The former Dublin ace has been involved with the reigning Down champions since May, and their bid to hold onto the Frank O’Hare Cup will face its stiffest test yet when they go toe-to-toe with Mickey Moran’s Magpies at Newry’s Pairc Esler.

The quarter-final clash is a repeat of last year’s county final, when Burren ended Kilcoo’s quest for a seventh title in-a-row.

Christie travels up to St Mary’s Park once a week, but is quick to downplay the extent of his own involvement as they prepare for Monday’s make-or-break showdown.

“I’d love to tell you that I’m orchestrating everything, and I’m like Mourinho or Alex Ferguson or something, but I’m probably more like a ball retriever and water bottle filler,” he smiles.

“The lads were looking for maybe a different voice to add something to it. The same would’ve happened in Ballymun through the years where you’d have got somebody in just to change things around a bit or do a few different drills. That’s all it is.

“Paddy O’Rourke asked me to get involved – they have a management team there that is very professional and very well set-up.”

Indeed, the structure and organisation of the club is something that has taken Christie aback.

Despite having been involved in the rise of Ballymun Kickham’s, culminating in their 2013 All-Ireland Club success, Christie admits Burren are “levels above” most other clubs.

“We would’ve always prided ourselves on trying to do things as well as we could, but if set-ups can win you championships and Ulster Clubs then Burren have always got a chance,” added the 43-year-old, who worked alongside Kilcoo’s Conor Laverty during a previous spell at Trinity College, Dublin.

“They are levels above what other clubs are, and certainly Ballymun wouldn’t be next nor near them in terms of facilities or the whole organisation of the club.

“On the basis of my involvement across the country in different things, you’re talking about a set-up that would be close enough to inter-county. It’s really enjoyable to be part of, even in a very small way.

“I know Down haven’t really featured much at the top table for a while but I’d imagine that, if clubs are doing what Burren are doing, Down are going to be heading in the right direction soon.”

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