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05th Feb 2023

Tyrone hurlers win first game since Damian Casey passed away in emotionally charged game

Lee Costello

Casey Tyrone

“There was a lot of courage and a lot of guts shown there.”

Tyrone’s captain, star man, and greatest ever hurler Damian Casey, tragically passed away last year, but his county honoured him by beating London in their league opener.

It was the first league game that the Red Hands had to play without their talisman, and the void in the team is so much bigger than just the scores he got, but the qualities and warmth he brought as a friend.

Casey was also the free taker for Tyrone, and few were better at it than him, so his club-mate Mickey Little could have been feeling the pressure taking over that role.

However, he stood tall and rose to the task, hitting 11 points in total, including two late scores to seal the win in a thrilling match.

The game was fittingly played at Casey’s home club Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh, and manager Michael McShane was delighted that they could honour his memory.

“We said there was only one way to serve Damian’s memory and that was to keep Tyrone winning, because that was all Damian ever wanted,” he told BBC Sport.

Casey Tyrone

“There was a lot of courage and a lot of guts shown there at the end, and I knew that we would have that, because there was a desire there from the draw was made and it was a home game.”

The Tyrone manager was also full of praise for sharpshooter and match-winner Little.

“I told Mickey after the game how proud I was of him, and more importantly how proud Damian would be of him.

Casey Tyrone

“It’s not an easy role to come in and take over the role of free-taker for Tyrone after how Damian was for 10 years.

“And for a young lad like Mickey, a club-mate of Damian’s, who had probably, as a child, been watching Damian for the last 10 years and idolising him, and all of a sudden he’s out under the lights on a night like that with a big crowd watching him, and taking crucial frees at he end of the game, and putting them away.”

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