By Brendan Larkin
CATHAL CASEY has enjoyed a long and illustrious career with St Catherines.
But yesterday’s Premier IHC victory at Páirc Uí Chaoimh gave him as much satisfaction as winning his first senior All-Ireland medal with Cork in 1986.
Moved from wing forward to midfield at a time in when the Saints were struggling to contain Courcey Rovers, Casey made an immediate impact.
Following a goalmouth melee, the ball broke to him. Another forward might have went to pick it, but not Casey. His first time pull rattled the Courceys net and the Saints were on their way.
"This is the pinnacle of my career," said Cathal as he was swamped by the joyous Catherines followers.
"Things weren’t going too good for us early in the game but we kept our heads. There was no panic and when the switches were made it all began to fall into place for us.
"I’m delighted for our players and team management. They put in a huge effort and we got our reward. We have a lot of very good hurlers and it was important for them that this title was won. It will give them confidence to go on and seek further honours."
Team manager Jerry Fitzgerald, whose two sons Mike and Shane were on the winning team, said it was a victory for heart and commitment.
"We were written off by everybody but ourselves. I can tell you now that we had the utmost confidence in our own ability to win this title.
"There was a certain amount of fear and trepidation at the beginning of the year, but we made ourselves a vow to get back up as quickly as possible.
"Whether we do will now be up to the AGM. This squad of players deserved their hour of glory.
"Switching Cathal Casey out and putting Shane Kearney into the corner worked. Shane has been moved into the corner in every game this year and hasn’t left us down.
"Today is a great day for our senior players, Casey and Denis Walsh. They have been outstanding servants for St Catherines."
Goalkeeper Ian O’Connell was certainly one of Catherines heroes with a strong of magnificent saves.
"No one gave us a hope in hell of winning, but we had great confidence in ourselves, so we backed ourselves at 6/1 to win, and made a tidy bundle."