Thursday 21 September 2017

'We don't look back on the past, we can't change what has happened'

Dr Crokes' Daithí Casey is pictured ahead of their clash in the AIB GAA Senior Football Club Championship Semi Final against Corofin. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Dr Crokes' Daithí Casey is pictured ahead of their clash in the AIB GAA Senior Football Club Championship Semi Final against Corofin. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

A frank conversation with Pat O'Shea at the start of 2016 acted as a metaphorical kick up the rear end for Daithi Casey, and Dr Crokes.

"Pat came in at the start of the year and said, 'You have more in the locker and we need to get more out of you'. I took that as a challenge on myself and I've been happy with how the year has gone," Casey said.

"That was coming because I hadn't performed to the level that I'd like to over the previous two years, none of us had, we hadn't won, we hadn't done the business. The players let the standards slip over the two years.

"And I won't say it was just me, but I would consider myself a leader in the team and the fact that I wasn't doing it regularly and in the big games, I think that affected us not doing it and not winning."

Those words had the desired effect and with Kerry's 2007 All-Ireland-winning manager back at the helm of his native club, Casey bagged a hat-trick, including a spectacular goal of the season contender, in their Munster club final rout of The Nire.

That sets up another All-Ireland semi-final place for Kerry greats Colm 'Gooch' Cooper and 37-year-old Eoin Brosnan, who have suffered setbacks at that same stage four times in the past decade, and Casey feels Saturday's mouth-watering tie with Corofin will push the Killarney kingpins to the limit.

Lessons have been learned from the past, they no longer take success for granted but they won't be looking back ahead of their "once-off" clash with the 2015 Andy Merrigan Cup winners with vice-captain Casey believing hurt is not a driving factor for their squad.

"Going on to win the Munster club was fantastic; it was like winning the first one. When you're doing so well a few years ago you were nearly taking it for granted. Now that we're back, we're taking it one step at a time," the AIB Munster Player of the Year said.

"We don't look back, I don't think back to past losses. We haven't changed our preparations too much. I think the biggest thing is hopefully we've gained experience over the last number of years to get us over the line this time. We didn't take any break over the Christmas and we've trained hard all the time."

Casey, who famously won SFC titles in two different counties in 2011 (with UCC and Dr Crokes), is in scintillating form and after his previous stint with the Kingdom came to a premature end, "it would be great to get back in" if the call came from Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

Surplus

The primary school teacher tore a tendon in his knee three years ago but collected an All-Ireland medal with Kerry from the stands before being deemed surplus to requirements the following spring. Rather than define him it has helped shape his future.

"When I was first coming up at 19 or 20 with Kerry, I was probably lazy, a more skilful fella. The game has changed so I've had to become more of an athlete and more into the defensive side of it," the 26-year-old said.

"I was so young I didn't appreciate what I had to do to make it with Kerry and the professionalism that fellas have these days is through the roof. I just expected that I could go at it and, unfortunately, I wasn't cutting it and I've looked at myself and I wasn't doing the business and in Kerry I'm not exactly going for the easiest place - the forwards is where all the competition is.

"I honestly just wasn't doing it. I wasn't living up to the standards. I think at the time he (Fitzmaurice) made the right call. I've re-evaluated and it made me come back a better player. I think I'm more confident now. I wasn't getting that much time. You want to be playing games all the time.

"I want to be playing as much as I can and enjoying as much as I can. I think that's come back to me this year. Maybe my time with Kerry could be finished. Is that the end of the world? No, not if we can keep winning with Crokes. That suits me okay.

"I definitely wouldn't say no if Kerry did come calling but at the moment I'm happy with Crokes and if we can keep being successful with Crokes, that'll be plenty for me."

Irish Independent

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