Corofin the sole focus for in-form Dr Crokes star Daithí Casey

Daithí Casey concedes his chance to be a permanent member of the Kerry panel may have passed him by but doesn’t intend dwelling on it.

The 26-year-old was excellent for Dr Crokes in their seventh successful provincial campaign last November. The intention is to continue that form into Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Corofin in Limerick where thoughts of a recall to the county set-up will be put to the back of the vice-captain’s mind.

Casey admits he wasn’t “cutting it” when he was there under Éamonn Fitzmaurice. “When I was first coming up at 19 or 20 with Kerry, I was probably lazy. Over the years, the game changed so I’ve had to become more of an athlete and more into the defensive side. All the wing-backs are made to go forward these days so I must follow that.

“Because 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 I could go at it so I would say my mindset has changed in terms of preparation, nutrition and all these buzz words. That has made a big difference.”

It’s two years since Casey was part of the Kerry panel. “I was there for all of the league and then I got the lovely phone call,” he smiled. “I honestly just wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t living up to the standards. I was playing as a half-forward and it was between myself and Donnchadh (Walsh) but I just wasn’t doing it to the same level as himself and Mikey Geaney. I think at the time he (Fitzmaurice) made the right call. I’ve re-evaluated and it has made me come back a better player.”

He concluded: “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. Yes, it is a shop window for fellas but I think it’s more a shop window maybe for the likes of Shane Murphy, for Gavin White and the younger fellas to push on. 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.”

But for a short break at Christmas, Crokes have trained away as they bid to break their run of All-Ireland semi-final disappointments. It’s an indication of Pat O’Shea’s no let-up policy as Casey knows having been told by his manager he wasn’t getting the most out of himself. “That was coming because I hadn’t performed to the level I’d like over the previous two years, none of us had, we hadn’t won, we hadn’t done the business. We (the players) let the standards slip over the two years. I won’t say it was just me, but I would consider myself a leader in the team and the fact I wasn’t doing it regularly and in the big games, I think that affected us.”

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