HE’S 38, he played senior inter-county for Limerick from 1989 to 2004, won three All Star awards, two National Leagues, two Munster championships, 10 senior counties with Patrickswell, his club, but Ciarán Carey still hasn’t had enough.
Still going strong with the Well, this Sunday in Semple Stadium, a place he knows so well, a place that knows him so well, he lines up at full-back for the Limerick intermediate team that faces Clare in the Munster semi-final. To some it will be seen as a comedown, an act of folly, putting his reputation on the line after a sterling career at the top.
To others, it’s an act of courage, an act of defiance, the act of a man who is very much his own man, who will not be dictated to by convention.
To Ciarán Carey, however, it’s just a match, another game of hurling, another stage on which to show that the talent he had in such abundance is still strong. Above all, it’s an opportunity to express the love he still has for hurling. “They brought in a rule this year, which might have been there already in Clare and Waterford, that a senior club player in Limerick could play intermediate for the county,” said Carey.
“I’ve worn the shirt at senior level, and I suppose a lot of people will be thinking I’m mad; the way I look at it, the easy option for me now would be to throw the gear bag up in the loft, take the hurleys and chop them up for the fire, but this is a test for myself, see if I’m still up to it. The main reason though is that I’ve really enjoyed the last three or four years with my club (Patrickswell), so when I was asked to play for the intermediates by Gerry Molyneaux, I said, why not? What’s the big deal? Other people might think they’re too big to play intermediate — I don’t.”
He’s not expecting any favours this Sunday, far from it. On the same day three weeks ago that Clare dethroned Waterford as Munster senior champions, the Clare intermediates had already done the same to reigning champions Waterford. In doing so it was full-forward Padraig Chaplin who scored the decisive goal, and the Cratloe-man looked dangerous throughout — a handful for Ciarán. “The full-forward will be trying to do a Lar Corbett on me, burn me with pace (the Tipp senior full-forward is a flyer), and don’t think I’m not aware of that. I know what I’m letting myself in for, I know I’m letting myself wide open, but sure we’ll see what happens.”
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