@jackc so basically I purchased some 16GB cards and was able to flash the image to those. system started up fine on these. The initial cards were samsung 32GB that did not work. So topic can be closed.
Found 2 burners that work on the Macbook Pro.
I'm going to try this on wednesday using the configuraiton sold on recalbox website (the Vilros 32gb kit) and report back. Glad to see others have been thinking about this.
Thank you so much. Worked instantaneously. 😃