Down football is in mourning after the death of Eamonn Burns, who won two All-Ireland senior titles with the county. He was 56.
Burns lined out at midfield in 1991 for Pete McGrath’s men as Down ended a 23-year wait for a senior crown. He scored two points in the two-point win over Meath. Three years later, he played in the half-back line as Down overcame Dublin in the final, also by a two-point margin.
He later served as a Down selector during James McCartan’s spell in charge and took over as manager himself in 2015. He led the county to the 2017 Ulster final with wins over Armagh and Monaghan. He stepped away from the job last year.
Burns also served as manager with his own club Bryansford, leading them to a county title, as well as having management spells with Ballymartin, Darragh Cross and Tullylish in recent years.
His club Bryansford led the tributes.
“It is with great sadness that we have today learned of the passing of our member Eamonn Burns. An All-Ireland winner with Down, he was a true legend of both club and county. From all at the club we extend our sincere condolences to his family at this sad time.”
Down GAA mourned a “true son of Down”.
“To his wife Sinead, Sons Cathal and Thomas, brothers Malachy and Colum and sister Mary we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy.
“Eamonn Burns was the youngest of three brothers who all would wear the green and gold of Bryansford and the Red and Black of Down.
Indeed, it is only a few short weeks ago that Eamonn and the boys of 1994 once again adorned the sward of Croke Park as they were introduced to the crowd as the Jubilee team of 25 years ago on All Ireland Final day.
“In 2015 when Jim McCorry had resigned as Down Senior Football team manager Eamonn Burns stepped up to the mark and took on the role of County Senior Football team manager.
“For Eamonn it was a case of serving his County when he was needed and at a time when Down football was not enjoying the best of fortune, Eamonn Burns remained a dignified figure at all times who only ever gave of his very best in the cause of Down.
“In 2017 there were memorable days as relegation was avoided in Cork and the Ulster Championship saw us record victories over Armagh in Newry and on a particularly special night in the Athletic Grounds a win over Monaghan and against all the odds Eamonn Burns had guided Down back to an Ulster Final.
“Success was to elude us against Tyrone but pride had been restored in our County in no small way due to the efforts of Eamonn Burns, a man who himself had great pride in the Red and Black.
“After the Championship of 2018, Eamonn resigned as County Senior Team Manager and he did so in a manner fitting of the man, quietly, with dignity, decency and with only the best interests of Down in mind.
“Eamonn was a great ambassador for Down as a player and as a manager. He was one of the good guys, always about the greater good, always selfless with his time and only wanting to give of his best in any task that he undertook.
“Down GAA have been privileged to have Eamonn Burns amongst our sons, he gave us as supporters many magical moments, he brought a smile to our faces and in those days of 1991 and 1994 he helped bring us glory days.
“Eamonn has been taken from us too soon, we will miss you Eamonn but we will smile in the memory of the days that you gave us. You were a true son of Down.
“On behalf of the family that is Down GAA we offer our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to Sinead, Cathal, Thomas and to Malachy, Colum, Mary and the Burns and Mullan family circle.
“Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”
Ulster GAA also expressed its condolences to the family.