David neu­tralised Go­liath’s aerial threat

Mike Casey over­came Glynn’s five-inch height ad­van­tage in in­ge­nious fash­ion

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Malachy Clerkin

In the of­fi­cial match pro­gramme fig­ures – and far be it from us to take such a doc­u­ment at any­thing other than its word – Mike Casey stands at 6ft flat and weighs in at 11st and 8lb. Johnny Glynn, the hu­man cherry-picker around whom so much of Gal­way’s at­tack is fo­cused, walks him­self around in the world with five inches more in height than Casey and a pound short of four stones ex­tra in weight. A good big ’un beats a good lit­tle ’un ev­ery time, right?

Not here. Not yes­ter­day. It turned out that the mis­take ev­ery­one made was in won­der­ing how the Lim­er­ick full-back line – and Casey in par­tic­u­lar – was go­ing to stop Glynn de­stroy­ing them in the air. The big­ger ques­tion we should have been ask­ing our­selves was what had Gal­way left once Glynn’s aerial threat had been neu­tralised.

Be­cause neu­tralise it Lim­er­ick did. Casey was like a sleeveen politi­cian all af­ter­noon, re­fus­ing to ac­cept the premise of the ques­tion that was asked and in­stead steer­ing the con­ver­sa­tion around to his own lik­ing. He was never go­ing to be able to catch a ball that both he and Glynn were go­ing for so he very sim­ply never tried. In­stead, he just made sure Glynn couldn’t do it ei­ther. He learned the les­son of The Wire – you can not lose if you do not play.

Gal­way weren’t able to pep­per the Lim­er­ick full-back line with as much Glynn-tai­lored ball as they would have liked. They were los­ing too many of the one-on-one bat­tles out the pitch for that. But on the cou­ple of oc­ca­sions in ei­ther half that they did man­age to de­liver some­thing work­able in be­tween them, Casey made it his busi­ness to make it none of their busi­ness.

‘Bril­liant’

He in­sin­u­ated him­self in and around Glynn’s per­sonal space, plant­ing his feet and dar­ing the big Gal­way man to find a de­tour around him that would still give him a chance of grab­bing the ball. Glynn never man­aged it.

His suc­cesses all sum­mer have come against full-backs who have tried to bruise his spirit by tak­ing a catch off him or get­ting their stick to the drop­ping ball ahead of him. Casey trou­bled him­self with none of those frip­peries. As long as Glynn had no ball, Lim­er­ick were in a good place.

“He was bril­liant,” said John Kiely af­ter­wards. “He was prob­a­bly un­der the most pres­sure of all the play­ers be­cause of the amount of com­men­tary that was on his match-up with Johnny Glynn. And you know, while there was a to­tal mis­match height-wise, Mike used ev­ery ounce of strength in his body to at­tack the ball. He re­ally had a fan­tas­tic match.”

Glynn got out to the first ball that came their way, a Pádraic Man­nion side­line cut out un­der the Cu­sack Stand af­ter seven min­utes. Casey got his stick up and de­flected it out for a 65, which Joe Can­ning duly scored. It had come in­di­rectly from Glynn’s work but Casey had done his bit so you’d just about call it a score draw at that point.

But Casey soon be­gan to take the game away for him­self. On 11 min­utes, the first high ball into the square. Necks craned in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the great Glynn paw reach­ing for the sky.

No dice. Casey stood un­der him, hip to, er, thigh and sub­tly shifted the patch of grass over which they were fight­ing. The ball went to ground, Casey hoovered up the scraps and fed the ball back to Nickie Quaid in the Lim­er­ick goal. Ball cleared. Ad­van­tage Lim­er­ick.

De­lib­er­ate in­dif­fer­ence

On 18 min­utes, a sim­i­lar story. Can­ning put the ball in this time, Casey re­acted with the same de­lib­er­ate in­dif­fer­ence. Picked his spot in the ground, phys­i­cally dis­abused Glynn of the no­tion that he could pick his, got in among his airspace and clouded his thoughts and vi­sion like a nerve gas. The ball sailed over the pair of them and Lim­er­ick were away again.

In their prepa­ra­tions over the past fort­night, Lim­er­ick would have been liv­ing for the point at which Glynn was forced out the field to get into the game. It hap­pened 10 min­utes short of half-time, by which stage Gal­way’s at­tack was mal­func­tion­ing all over the place. Lim­er­ick were 1-8 to 0-6 ahead and none of the Gal­way for­wards had scored from play. Glynn promptly caught a puck-out over Dan Mor­ris­sey and sent David Burke through for a set­tler.

Casey again

He was back on the edge of the square for the sec­ond half, though, and Casey was back in all of his life. When Lim­er­ick got the four of the first five points af­ter the restart, Gal­way were in need of a goal. Burke tried an­other high one into Glynn, Casey spoiled it again.

By the 43rd minute, he was out for­ag­ing on the wing once more, send­ing Can­ning away for a score af­ter catch­ing a puck-out. But that was all he could do.

There was sim­ply noth­ing for him closer to goal. Glynn caught just one high ball on the edge of the square all day, long af­ter Casey had limped off to a stand­ing ova­tion in the 50th minute. The Lim­er­ick full-back had done his duty.

‘‘ Casey was like a sleeveen politi­cian all af­ter­noon, re­fus­ing to ac­cept the premise of the ques­tion that was asked and in­stead steer­ing the con­ver­sa­tion around to his own lik­ing

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