Hurling & Camogie

Damian Casey & Eoghan Ruadh raring to go for Ulster Club IHC final take two

At the time, Damian Casey says he would've 'bloody well played' last Saturday's postponed Ulster Club IHC final Picture by Séamus Loughran
At the time, Damian Casey says he would've 'bloody well played' last Saturday's postponed Ulster Club IHC final Picture by Séamus Loughran

Ulster Club IHC

DAMIAN Casey’s heart sank when he got the WhatsApp message last Saturday. There was to be a pitch inspection at Owenbeg.

As a committee member at Eoghan Ruadh, Dungannon as well as the hurling team’s talisman, he was invited to the all-important pitch inspection. So he hopped off the team coach at the filling station outside Dungiven and headed on up the road to assess the damage wrought by the torrential rain.

At stake was the Ulster Club intermediate hurling final fixture between Eoghan Ruadh and St Enda’s, Glengormley, a game – the Tyrone hurlers’ first provincial decider – both clubs had been weeks in preparation for. But the damage had been done.

“One of the lads was up just five minutes ahead of us and he’d put into the committee group that there was a pitch inspection, so I thought ‘ahhh no, surely not at this point’,” Casey said.

“I only seen one half of the field, but I think I seen the worst half. In around the sidelines was probably a wee bit soft and especially around the 21, there was a fair bit of water in it. We took a dander about, obviously there was a lot of rain fell two, three days before it and then the referee, with player welfare, someone coming in late, he didn’t want the game to be spoiled and he deemed it unplayable.”

While Casey was firm in his opinion of what the decision should have been at the time, his views have grown a bit more philosophical in the days since.

“To be quite honest, I would’ve bloody played the thing,” Tyrone’s 2019 Champion 15 award winner added.

“Don’t get me wrong, the pitch wasn’t in great shape and it was just probably, from a playing point of view, you’d done all the build-up, you’d done all the training and you want to get out there and play it and enjoy it as best you could. It probably was unplayable, but it’s hard to see that at the time, you get frustrated and it just takes an hour or two for that to settle down a bit.

“We were back out training on Monday night, but as some of the boys and supporters have said, ‘it could be worse, you could be sitting here beat’, so once you take that playing hat off, things could be much worse, we could’ve been coming down the road beat. Another week training in the grand scheme of things isn’t going to do us a major amount of harm.”

One man who has certainly been putting the hard yards in for the Eoghan Ruadh cause is Pádraig McHugh, who has been travelling back from his work in the German city of Frankfurt to attend training and play matches.

While he suffered a scare in his efforts to get home for last weekend’s postponed game, he should be available this Saturday when the Antrim and Tyrone clubs will travel to Derry’s Celtic Park.

“He took a bit of a panic, there was a strike, but he managed to get home late last Friday,” said Casey.

“He’s back and forward, he’s over there every week, but his schedule changes, he organises it as best he can around training. He gets to as many trainings as he can.”