Hurling and camogie

Damian Casey keen to make winning shinty debut for Ireland

In attendance during the Nicky Rackard Cup competition launch is Gaa president John Horan (centre) with players, from left, Damian Casey of Tyrone, Padraig Doherty of Donegal, Ger Smyth of Louth, Fergal Rafter of Monaghan, Paul Hoban of Warwickshire, P atrick Walsh of Longford, and Zak Moradi of Leitrim at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Colin Duffy

Damian Casey is keen to fully grasp the opportunity of playing for his country this Saturday as he makes his debut for Ireland against Scotland in the Marine Harvest Senior Shinty-Hurling International in Bught Park, Inverness (2pm).

The Tyrone man has come close to representing Ireland in the hybrid game in recent years, but club commitments got in the way.

He's keen to make his mark in Inverness this weekend, in his first ever competitive Shinty-Hurling match.

"I'm delighted, it's once a year to get the opportunity, and unfortunately on previous occasions it didn't work out for me," Casey told the Irish News.

"It's something you want to do is to play for your country along with playing for your club and county."

The province used to come into play also, but that's been put to ice every since Storm Desmond forced the cancellation of the competition two years ago, after Casey had been selected to play for Ulster.

"It was down in Galway and it didn't take place because of a bad storm, so it's great to play for Ireland this weekend."

It's a step into the unknown for Casey and a lot of the Irish squad, with just four players back from the loss to Scotland 12 months ago, although the likes of team captain David English have previous experience, with the Carlow man lining out for Ireland in Newry in 2014.

"It's a similar sport, but it's a totally different way of playing it," Casey said.

"My first instinct would be to go and catch the ball which you can't do. Whenever you are playing full-forward you are coming out to not catch the ball, and it's a different thought process completely.

"It makes you think different, although it's a similar sport it's a different thought process completely, and you have got to relish it and the chance to play something different."

Players from each of the four provinces will be involved, and Casey says with such a spread of experience and talent, it's well set-up for to hopefully get a win.

"13 counties are represented, so there's a wide range of players there," he said.

"We are definitely going over to win on Saturday, so hopefully that experience of having a couple of Tier 1 county players like Jason Forde, Noel Connors and David McInerney will help.

"Those lads will be well used to playing on the big stage. Then the guys who played previously well also have great experience which will help.

"The management is around for a few years as well, so they will have that bit of experience too, so we are definitely going over to get the win."

Casey and Donegal's Danny Cullen are the only Ulster men involved and he says it's unfortunate that not more players from the province aren't on the squad.

"Being from Ulster you'd love to have more players from the province on the team," he said.

"With Club commitments and different things more lads aren't involved. I'd have loved to see as many of them there as possible.

"A lot of clubs with Championship not starting until August or September, if they progress they are still in action now. The likes of Arron Graffin and Neil McManus would have been involved in the past, but they have an Antrim final against Loughgiel Shamrocks to look forward too now.

"A lot of teams in other counties are still going as well, and the Ulster Championship has started now, so it's been hard for guys to commit, but hopefully we'll do the business on Saturday."

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