TWENTY one-year-old Munster scrum-half Craig Casey had a day to remember on Saturday as he won his first Ireland cap off the bench in the 48-10 bonus point thumping of Italy in the Six Nations in Rome.
Casey gave an eye-catching display when replacing Jamison Gibson Park in the final quarter at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Shannon RFC clubman, who starred for Ardscoil Ris in the Munster Schools Cup, only made his first start for Munster in the Guinness PRO14 some 14 months ago.
"I was delighted to get on, buzzing to get going. I just wanted to make an impact and hopefully I did that," Casey told irishrugby.ie
"The family would all have been here, 25 cousins and all that. Obviously, it's disappointing they are not here, but they will all have been watching at home.
"The phone was buzzing, especially in the lead-in to the France week. I got a hell of a lot of texts, that I had to turn the phone off until after the game.
"I had to go back through the messages obviously not after playing. That was a bit awkward. Everyone from Shannon has been on to me. The support there is unreal, same with Ardscoil. Loads of texts there.
"Peter Stringer, in fairness, texted me before the France game. That was cool. He just said, ‘best of luck and be yourself. Don’t try and do anything out of the ordinary’. Everyone is so supportive and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Having gotten his first taste of international rugby, Casey is looking to add more Ireland caps.
"Of course I want to be playing games for Ireland, that’s definitely the goal," he said.
"I don’t want to sit back and be happy with being third choice. Not at all. I want to push on now.
"When you’ve got players of Murr’s (Conor Murray) calibre and Jamo’s (Jamison Gibson-Park) calibre as well, it’s obviously tough to break in, but I’m definitely not going to be sitting back and be happy with being third choice. I want to push on now."
In the dressing room after the game, new cap Casey entertained his team mates by singing a George Michael classic, Careless Whisper.