Another experienced skipper looking to lead her county to glory is Limerick’s Michelle Casey. The 33-year-old Nenagh-based Garda is loath to reveal just how long she has been playing with the Shannonsiders – she is laughing hard while batting the query away – but admits to having experienced plenty in her time in the green jersey. Casey is upbeat about the positive signs shown by Limerick during the course of the Division 2 campaign so far. A hat-trick of goals from Mary Corcoran was the basis for beating Kilkenny in the semi-final but it was the manner in which they emerged from a competitive group that revealed their steel.They recorded victories in their first three games before suffering a setback against Waterford on the bizarre score of 0-5 to 0-4.
Casey ready for Treaty challenge
“It was probably the weirdest game I’ve ever played in” admits Casey. “It was like the Donegal footballers had taken over. The gale-force wind was against us in the first half so we started defensively and kept the Waterford score down. They did the same in the second half, totally packed it out and the scoreline reflected that.” That set up a winner-takes-all battle with Galway. Having lost some major games by tight margins in recent years, it was a monumental test of character for the girls in green. A test they passed with flying colours.
“After we lost to Waterford we were on edge. We were heading into playing Galway and had to win. They had put up a good fight last year in the All-Ireland final and replay and could have won it. It was nice to get the win and qualify for the semi-final.There’s an awful lot of us experienced from being in All-Ireland semi-finals in 2012 and 2011 and a lot of the young players have done well underage recently too. So that’s a boost and they’ve blended in quite easily. It’s a nice mixture now.”
Limerick have utilised the league to immerse many of their younger stars into the set-up but being one of the top intermediate teams in the land, they were always likely to be involved at the latter end of the campaign.They’re an ambitious bunch anyway, as you’d expect from a side with Joe Quaid at the helm. They are desperate to operate on the highest tier of camogie. If they could finally claim the intermediate title later this year, a season in Division 1 would be tremendous preparation for a return to the senior ranks.
“We have been looking towards the championship block of four weeks at the end of June/start of July where we’ve four matches together. We wanted to be prepared as well as we could for that. We hit the ground running in January. Everyone bought into the training programme that was given to us, took it upon themselves to do their own work and the results came. When push came to shove, I think the work that was done got us over the line against Galway and then Kilkenny. All the results you get in a league will benefit you and now being in the final is a huge boost.
Division 1 is where every team wants to play. Limerick were senior for many years and drifted down to intermediate. You have to get up there before you can compete up there."
“All we can do next Sunday is win the league and hope then that playing the top teams can bring us further. Hopefully we can get a few results in the championship and put ourselves in a position where we can be playing senior championship as well next year.”
Despite being stationed in Naas for three years, Casey is not well versed on the current Kildare team although she is well aware of the giant strides they have made in recent years. She is much too wily to be taken in by suggestions that Limerick are hot favourites to claim Division 2 honours.“We don’t know much about them – I don’t think we’ve ever played them to be honest – but you’re heading into an All-Ireland final. They’ve gone through similar games to us, have earned their right to be there and are gonna be there to win it as well as we are so they’ll have our total respect.“It’s gonna be one day, 60 minutes and whoever wants it most maybe.”