FOOTBALL: Heart scare striker Burns keeping his options open

Ronnie Burns (left) playing for Ballynure OB against Brantwood in the Ballymena and Provincial League.
Ronnie Burns (left) playing for Ballynure OB against Brantwood in the Ballymena and Provincial League.

He’s best known for scoring goals, but having been advised to hang up his shooting boots because of a heart condition, former Ballyclare Comrades striker Ronnie Burns is considering going between the sticks as a goalkeeper.

Earlier this month the 31-year-old was told by a cardiologist to quit football because of a thickening of one of his heart valves. But, having won a trophy treble with Ballymena League outfit Ballynure Old Boys last season, he’s keen to extend his playing days by donning the gloves.

Ronnie Burns with son, Dylan, celebrating Ballynure Old Boys' treble at the end of last season. INLT 34-919-CON

Ronnie Burns with son, Dylan, celebrating Ballynure Old Boys' treble at the end of last season. INLT 34-919-CON

He said: “I will definitely miss playing football as a centre-forward. It’s a bit of a blow but the only sort of saving grace is I had always said to myself that I would go into coaching or I wanted to do nets.

“I did nets for Ballynure last season when our keeper was out. I have asked a specialist about it because obviously I wouldn’t be putting my heart under the strain I would be while playing outfield. I’m hoping they give me the all-clear to do that, but it’s going to be for the second-team.

“I am gutted that I can’t play up top anymore but, for me, I’m quite lucky. I can adapt my lifestyle to it and keep an eye on things.”

Doctors discovered a heart murmur when Burns was in for surgery on a torn ligament in his hip in early July.

Burns counts Ballyclare Comrades among his former clubs. NT49-013FP

Burns counts Ballyclare Comrades among his former clubs. NT49-013FP

“I sort of stumbled across the condition and then went to see the cardiologist. He was pretty confident one of the valves in my heart wasn’t formed properly or one of them wasn’t working properly,” he said.

“But when the heart scan results came back, all were working. It’s just one of them has a thickening of the valve which isn’t letting enough blood through.

“I have to have yearly scans to err on the side of caution and make sure everything is OK.”

Having enjoyed spells in the Irish League with Ballyclare, Dungannon Swifts, Larne and Ards, he admits football has been good to him and also spoke of his passion for coaching which he hopes will keep him in the local game for years to come.

“I’ve had some great experiences, played a bit of Irish League football and made some good friends. It’s one of those things; you take it on the chin and move on.”

He added: “Coaching is always something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve travelled to America for the last six or seven years every summer to coach kids. It’s been a great experience.

“I know Ballynure will always leave a place open for me to coach. My plan has always been to get into the Irish League and coach there. As much as I love Ballynure, I want to push myself go to the highest level I can.

“If that means coaching in the Irish League at some stage then that’s something I definitely want to do.”