When it comes to recalling hurling in the 1950s, former Clare star Noel Casey does so with great fondness. It was in those days that he started his career, initially in the Sixmilebridge Parish Leagues, an initiative that was used even back then to promote the game.
At that time Casey hadn't reached his teenage years but he hasn't forgotten how much he enjoyed talking his first tentative steps into the game. From there he joined Sixmilebridge GAA Club and began his journey through the underage ranks. He started out in goals but worked his way out the field to full-forward. Although the club has now experienced success at all levels, Casey didn't win anything with them until he was in the twilight of his career when Sixmilebridge won a series of county titles.
However, he'd made his club senior debut long before that at just 17. Three years later in 1968 he had made the Clare under 21 team and was subsequently called onto the county senior panel.
"The concept of manager hadn't came about then," explains Casey. "There were five selectors and I got a letter asking me into the squad from the then secretary. The late Eamonn Russell from Sixmilebridge was also on the team. We used to get together to train usually about three nights a week in either Tulla, Newmarket or Ennis and I travelled with Eamonn. My first game then was a league semi-final against Kilkenny in 1968."
The full-forward, who is always remembered for his dangerous presence on the edge of the square, played for Clare until 1980. And while he didn't pick up provincial or All-Ireland medals, he did win two National League titles in 1977 and 1978 and was selected for a prestigious All Star award in 1978. He had many battles with some legendary backs but there are a couple who stand out.
"The player you will always find the best is the one you can't handle on a given day. I found Pat Henderson and Fan Larkin fairly tough."
The former hurler worked as a garda for 30 years and was honoured with selection on the best ever Garda hurling team. He's still a big fan of Clare hurling and enjoyed watching them win the All-Ireland title last year.
"They were fabulous, they played with such flair, skill and panache. It was great to win it but the way they won it was something special. They brought so much to the game."