Promise to grandad saw Casserly switch codes

Promise to grandad saw Casserly switch codes
Galway’s Lisa Casserly and Mairead Dillon celebrate victory over Tipperary in the All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie championship semi-final. Picture: Inphoe

Motivation is a very personal thing. When Lisa Casserly was playing soccer for Ireland, that was all she wanted to do and though she was a club camogie player with Ballinderreen, it was a hobby.

She smiles when thinking about a former Republic of Ireland teammate, who shared the experience of reaching the European Championships semi-final at Under-19 level in 2014.

Amy O’Connor was a vital member of that team but on away trips, she was always talking about St Vincent’s and Cork, the hurley and the sliotar.

“It was camogie, camogie, camogie with her all the time, even then,” Casserly reveals. “You knew that was what she wanted to do more than anything else. She was a good soccer player but camogie was her passion and it’s no surprise to see her having done so well.”

At that juncture, Casserly fancied travelling the type of route since taken by other teammates such as Katie McCabe, Megan Connolly and Clare Shine, who became senior internationals and are full-time professionals with Arsenal, Brighton and Glasgow City respectively.

But having dedicated herself to excellence in that sphere, she opted to find out how far she could go in another, and like O’Connor, and Mayo ladies footballer Sarah Rowe, she turned the focus on a Gaelic code.

No doubt about it, the motivation was personal.

“I started off with soccer and had been playing it since I was about five. I represented Ireland. I took a step back from that two years ago. I had always played camogie with the club and always loved it but felt I hadn’t given myself the chance to break onto a county team.

“It was my grandfather who asked me to give it a go for one year to just see how I would go so I did it for him really.

“I was lucky enough to break into the intermediates two years ago. Cathal (Murray) came in this year and he put me onto the senior panel as well. I’m taking every day as it comes and really enjoying it.

“It’s a massive step up for me. The rest of the girls had been playing from Minor with Galway but they’ve been so good. I didn’t know them from Adam when I walked through the gates in Cappy (Cappataggle) a couple of years ago.

“It was so daunting. I’ll never forget it. It was our first training session up in Cappy, on the astro. I pulled up. There were girls getting out of cars, four and five girls in groups walking in. I didn’t know anyone and the heart was racing.

“But the girls were so lovely. They came over and introduced themselves and from there, they felt like family. To be honest, I feel like I’ve been playing with them all my life now.”

Lisa Casserly playing for Ireland U19s in 2013. Picture: Sportsfile
Lisa Casserly playing for Ireland U19s in 2013. Picture: Sportsfile

Casserly knows now she would have regretted not realising her potential in camogie.

“I was trying to balance both. It was very hard. We were training in Dublin for the soccer and it was hard to get down for training with the club but any time I was around I was playing. Ballinderreen were so good, they worked around my schedule and I was able to play loads of matches but I could never focus on the camogie.

“But I took a risk two years ago and I was lucky enough to progress.”

Now, the 23-year-old HR recruitment consultant is a key member of the team that plays Westmeath in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final on Sunday (2pm), the tall, athletic midfielder showing an eye for a score to match her ability to cover the grass, which should flourish in the Croke Park expanses.

She will then switch dressing rooms and change jerseys as a member of the squad that contests the senior decider (4.15pm) against Kilkenny.

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