Thursday 29 September 2016

Cork U-21 'keeper reveals online abuse ordeal

Published 05/05/2016 | 02:30

Cork goalkeeper Anthony Casey saves from Mayo’s Conor Loftus during the EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 final in Ennis last Saturday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Casey saves from Mayo’s Conor Loftus during the EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 final in Ennis last Saturday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cork U-21 goalkeeper Anthony Casey has revealed that his team-mates and Mayo senior counterpart Rob Hennelly have rallied around him following his high-profile error in the county's U-21 All-Ireland final defeat against Cork.

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One of Casey's kick-outs went straight to Mayo forward Conor Loftus who found the net for one of Mayo's five goals and the goalkeeper has opened up about the level of abuse he received both online and in person.

"I can only really remember going into the dressing-room," Casey says to Independent.ie about what happened after the final whistle.

"I wanted to be alone as soon as the game ended, away from all the cheering Mayo fans. As I walked to the dressing-room my manager came up and put his arms around me and tried to console me and I just apologised. I couldn't believe what had happened.

"I showered on my own and when the lads came into the dressing-room I had already changed. I tried to apologise to them but I couldn't pull myself together. It was a really sh***y feeling, I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

"I turned on my phone and I had loads of Twitter notifications," he says.

"I saw one that said I should have been in the Mayo team photo and another saying I must have gotten good odds on Cork to lose the game. Another said I couldn't save the ball or kick it out and it was the worst individual performance he had ever seen, and that was from a Cork fella.

Heartbreaking

"It is heartbreaking, you don't go out to lose a game. I was nice and relaxed before the game, I had no idea it would be one of the worst games of my career.

"One or two people have come up when I've been with the lads saying that I should have been taken off and that I had a bad game and then I would just laugh, and they'd say, 'oh, are you the goalie?'"

The 20-year-old also revealed that Mayo number one Hennelly - who experienced a similarly tough time in the 2013 All-Ireland final against Dublin - has been in constant contact since last Saturday.

"He has been messaging me since the game with great advice that is helping me get over it," Casey says, before revealing one piece of advice given by the All-Ireland finalist: "One piece of advice I got about mistakes that I wish I was given years ago was to forgive and remember. Forgive the mistake, they will always happen, and you remember it in your preparation and learn from it."

Casey also believes that there are professional players in other codes who don't receive the level of abuse of those on the Gaelic football and hurling fields.

"It's not fair at all," he says. "I'm only 20 and it's an amateur sport. We all have jobs. We all have girlfriends or partners or wives or children. Nasty comments can impact them too.

"It takes guts to go out and play for your county and then you get slaughtered by people sitting behind a phone or a keyboard.

"There are football players in the Premier League on millions that don't get the abuse that we get."

On Monday, Casey tweeted: "Made a mistake! Im human! I go to college, work and do everything that every amateur footballer does! Thanks for the support!" before facing into the first round of the Cork SFC championship with CIT against Newcestown.

"I was thinking about the message for ages to be honest with you," he adds. "It was something that had to be said. We have lives and it is just not right to get that sort of abuse.

"I didn't know how I was going to walk into that dressing-room. I was very afraid walking in. If I didn't show up I would have been called a coward and if I had played badly the criticism would have kept coming. Thankfully I kept a clean sheet and made a save or two and we got the win."

Irish Independent

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