Mike Casey “looking forward to getting stuck into the Munster Championship”

The Na Piarsaigh man didn’t miss a beat in his return year, starting each of Limerick’s championship games before going on to claim a sixth county title.

With a third successive All-Ireland safely tucked away, the goal for Limerick’s superstars quickly shifted to the club championships which kicked off just a fortnight after the Kilkenny win.

For the seventh time since 2011, it was Na Piarsaigh that stood tallest at the conclusion of the Limerick SHC, William O’Donoghue captaining the side to victory once more.

At full back was a familiar presence, Mike Casey adding club championship honours to the All-Ireland title won four months earlier.

Casey had been on the shelf for each of Limerick’s previous two wins after injuring his knee in the 2020 SHC which kicked off prior to the intercounty season due to the covid pandemic.

The Na Piarsaigh man didn’t miss a beat in his return year, starting each of Limerick’s championship games before going on to claim a sixth county title.

With his injury worries seemingly behind him, Casey was earmarked with a formidable task in the Munster semi-final as All-Ireland champions Ballygunner rolled into the Gaelic Grounds.

The Waterford side ran out worthy winners in the end after Na Piarsaigh showed their quality int he first half. But the result was somewhat secondary to the Limerick faithful as CAasey limped off with a knee injury.

Fearing the worst, there was some good news offered by John Kiely two months later with the Na Piarsaigh native returning to the fold for the Westmeath clash.

With three more games under his belt, Casey is rearing to go for the Munster championship now as he spoke ahead of Sunday’s game with Waterford.

“All okay now thank God, happy to be over it now. Back training now a good number of weeks so trying to get back to full fitness. Trying to put your hand up for a starting spot, the competition inside is incredible so really looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

5 April 2023; Mike Casey of Limerick poses for a portrait at the launch of the Munster GAA Championship at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Waterford have become a familiar opponent for Limerick but have yet to get one over John Kiely’s charges. They ran the eventual All-Ireland champions close in the 2020 Munster final following a pair of comprehensive defeats in 2018 and ’19. But that year’s All-Ireland final was a 12-point drubbing while the margin was 11-points in the 2021 semi-final.

However, last year, the Deise pushed Limerick all the way in the TUS Gaelic Grounds, with only three-points between the sides at the final whistle.

And Casey is expecting more of the same this Sunday despite Limerick’s favourites tag.

“We always get an unbelievable test off Waterford over the years. You only have to go back to last year in the Gaelic Grounds. They came with a huge intensity and work rate and put us to the pin of our collars. Really looking forward to it. Can’t wait for the Munster Championship to start again and go hammer and tongs at it.”

Yet, it is unlikely that many Limerick payers have looked past the final weeks of preparation with the squad depth in the county. The losses of his brother Peter and Cian Lynch to injury in 2022 opened the door for rejigging in the Limerick camp but the numbers won’t fit this Sunday with Kiely having a full deck to choose from.

Kyle Hayes hasn’t operated in the forwards this year after winning an All-Star at #11 in Lynch’s place with the Kildimo Pallaskenry man set for a return to wing-back after a pair of All-Star winning seasons there. Dan Morrissey won an All-Star at full-back in Casey’s absence but it seems to be a shoot out between the duo this weekend with Richie English also in the mix.

18 July 2021; Limerick manager John Kiely celebrates with Mike Casey after the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Speaking of the strength of the squad, Casey says the competitive nature between the players has driven them to these heights.

“It’s a squad game. Since we started off in this run, the strength of our panel has been something we have always backed and we will have to back it again. Its not a 15-man, or 26-man game, its about 36/37 bodies. We’re one big unit, one family. Everyone is as important as each other and the competitition is through the roof.

“Everyone is pushing and if you’re not, you’ll be called out on it. Your career is too short to be happy to just sit there. Everyone wants to be on the field and in that 15 and if you don’t, you’re probably in the wrong game.”

With four Munster championship games guaranteed, that squad ethos will be needed as Limerick prepare for another assault on history.

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