Sport League of Ireland

Monday 24 September 2018

LOI Weekly: No regrets for all-rounder Dan Casey about football plan

Dan Casey
Dan Casey
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

There were days as a teenager at Sunderland where Dan Casey watched images of Dublin lighting up Croke Park and wondered what might have been.

And if he had turned on a Leinster rugby match, he was entitled to feel the same emotions.

But the defender has no regrets about the path that he has pursued, a journey that has brought him back home to play his football for Bohemians with a view to going back across the water again.

The 20-year-old Dún Laoghaire man was in demand in his teens. He was playing GAA with Cuala, where Con O'Callaghan was a team-mate, and was part of the Dublin U-16 football squad.

His exploits on the rugby pitch with CBC Monkstown also led to an invite to have a look around Leinster's facilities.

With his family split between rugby and GAA fans, there was temptation to go down that route.

But Casey knew deep down what code he wanted to pursue and an offer from Sunderland confirmed it.

However, in an interview on the new LOI Weekly podcast, he confessed that his mind did wander as he adjusted to life at Sunderland.

"It was moreso when I went to England and had a bad day and was missing home, that you'd be watching the All-Ireland and thinking, 'I'd love to be at home trying to attempt to get near that'," said Casey.

"Seeing Dublin doing so well, there is a bit of, 'I'd love to go back to do it' but all of this is what could have been. Nothing was set in stone. I went to Leinster and had a look around but it was nothing serious.

"It was tough because I loved all sports. I would have been happy to go as far as I could in all of those paths but football has just edged it.

"It was a gradual process. My family were happy with me playing all sports and keeping my options open.

"Football was my favourite sport and it was what I was best at. I was never going to turn the opportunity down."

His cause at Sunderland was not helped by the chopping and changing of managers and persistent relegation battles which meant it was always going to be difficult for younger players to get an opportunity.

In fact, he feels that he has arguably learned more since coming home last summer to work with Bohemians manager Keith Long and his assistant Trevor Croly and trying men's football rather than competing against fellow U-23s.

"No disrespect to Sunderland but I've learned as much or more with these two lads. They're very good and patient coaches who take you aside or even bring me in before training to look at video analysis. I can't speak highly enough of them.

"The league is a great opportunity to get back across. I've seen lads go and do it. I had options in England but this is what I wanted to do."

To listen to Casey's full interview go toindependent.ie/podcasts

Irish Independent

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