Jarlath Burns to run for GAA top job: Former Armagh captain to stand in new year election for new President

Former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns lost narrowly when he ran for office in 2020
Former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns lost narrowly when he ran for office in 2020 Former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns lost narrowly when he ran for office in 2020

JARLATH Burns is to run for the GAA’s top office for a second time, the Irish News understands.

Burns, from Silverbridge in county Armagh, is expected to be confirmed as a candidate for the GAA Presidency at a county board tonight.

He hopes to succeed current Uachtarain Cumman Luthcleas Gael Larry McCarthy who edged out the former Orchard county captain and became the Association’s 40th president at the GAA Congress election of 2020. Burns topped the poll after the first count in that election in March 2020 but transfers went the way of Cork-born McCarthy, a New York candidate, and he was voted in on the fourth count by 142 votes to 132.

McCarthy succeeded Dubliner John Horan as President and assumed office in February 2021. If Burns is successful in next year’s election he will shadow McCarthy for a year as ‘Uachtarain Tofa’ (president elect) before his own three-year term begins in 2024.

A GAA man to his core, Burns is a former student of St Colman’s College, Newry and St Mary’s University, Belfast and has been principal of St Paul’s High School – one of the biggest schools in Ireland with 1600 pupils on its roll – for almost two decades.

As a player he represented Armagh with distinction as a ball-winning midfielder and captained the county to their breakthrough Ulster Championship success in 1999.

He retired from the inter-county scene after that season but continued to line out for Silverbridge Harps well into his 40s and has remained a dedicated and hard-working volunteer in the club which he currently serves as secretary.

In addition, he has been a versatile and innovative force in a variety of committees at county, provincial and national level and, since his son Jarly Og is a vital cog in Armagh’s current team, he is plugged-in to the challenges that face the modern GAA player.

After losing out last time around Burns was obviously disappointed but the plans he would have made for the reform and development of the Association might never have seen the light of day due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It remains to be seen if fate has smiled on him.

Before he made his way home from Croke Park two years’ ago, he said he had already come to terms with losing out to McCarthy and wished him well in his presidential term.

“I’m not in any way bitter, I’m not even really disappointed to be honest,” he insisted.

“I move on very, very quickly when something like this happens to me and in the job I’m in, I face situations like that day-in, day-out and you just have to be able to section things off in your mind and move on.

“People decided who they were going to vote for and they voted for them and all I can do as a GAA person is wish Larry all the best.”

Fermanagh’s Peter Quinn was the last GAA president from the six counties. Teemore native Quinn was elected to office in 1990 and he supervised the redevelopment of Croke Park from the ageing stadium it had become to the modern arena we enjoy today.

Burns could face opposition from within Ulster in next year’s election after Donegal GAA nominated Niall Erskine for the Presidency. Erskine has been Donegal's Central Council delegate.