Casey was destined to be a star says Eoghan Ruadh stalwart Colton

By Alan Rodgers

ONE of the coaches who watched Damian Casey’s progress as a hurler says it was clear from the start that the late 29 year-old was destined to become a star.

He starred for Dungannon at youth level as they dominated Tyrone competitions and also won a South Antrim League, before graduating to the senior side where he helped them to four county titles in 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2019.

“Damian first came to the club as an u-8. He stood out, was always very athletic and picked up the skills quickly,” said former Eoghan Ruadh club chairman, Tomas Colton.

“With him as a leader, his group won all the Tyrone titles at underage level and were very dominant.

Even during those early years as a senior, we were all aware of his potential and that he was a very special player.

“Damian played football until u-16 level as well. There is no doubt that if he had stuck at it he would also have represented Tyrone.”

But hurling was to be his destiny and the teenager first represented Tyrone in 2012. Over the next 10 years he scored in every one of his 101 matches at county level, averaged 10 points per game and more often than not proved to be the difference between victory and defeat.

It was no wonder, then, that his efforts helped spearhead a golden era for the Red Hand County in hurling. It culminated just a few weeks ago when they gained promotion to the Christy Ring Cup for the first time.

“Damian has been the leader on the Tyrone team. Every team has a superstar who raises everyone around them and the success follows. That was Damian for Tyrone,” Colton added.

“He played the game, was brave and always concentrated on hurling and winning the next ball. Even opponents liked him and he was the same off the field. He was the life and soul of the party and craic.

“For us as well, a big thing was that Damian was a hard worker around the club. If the committee needed something done in terms of stewarding or fundraising, he was the person we called on.

“Even with something like the bingo, Damian was out checking numbers and books.

“He was a great clubman and as a player he was acknowledged all over Ireland. One of the unfortunate things is that he didn’t get the chance to showcase his skills against the very best players around the country. He was selected for Ulster to play Connacht, but the game was called off because of rain, was never replayed and the inter-provincials were stopped the following year.

“I’ve been getting messages from top players all over Ireland in Limerick, Kilkenny, and footballers in Dublin, Kerry and Donegal. Many didn’t know him, but they followed his career and knew how good he was.”

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