DJ Carey, who appeared in Blanchardstown District Court in Dublin on Friday morning, having been charged with fraudulently obtaining money as part of an alleged cancer treatment scam, is regarded as one of the greatest hurlers of all time.
He was one of the first players to truly transcend the sporting sphere to garner wider societal recognition, so much so that even now he continues to be known simply by his mononym, DJ. On Friday he appeared before Judge John O’Leary who sent his case forward to the next sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
He stood, clutching his hands before him and looking steadily at the judge as the court heard an application for free legal aid for a man who, according to the information provided, had “no income whatsoever”.
A prodigious underage talent, Carey’s performances for St Kieran’s College at just 16 years of age had him marked out from early on as a player with a huge future in the game.
Still, few could have predicted the superstar Carey would eventually become. His development as a senior intercounty hurler occurred simultaneously with a growth in media coverage of Gaelic games, which in turn created greater commercial opportunities for the top players. And throughout the 1990s Carey was the biggest draw in hurling.
He won nine All Stars between 1991 and 2002, and during that period he was named Texaco Hurler of the Year on two occasions and All Star Hurler of the Year once. Artfully nicknamed the Dodger, Carey’s playing career wasn’t all goals and garlands, though.
In early February 1998, at just 27 years of age, he sent shock waves through the game by announcing his retirement. Carey had fallen out of love with the game. However, a massive public reaction followed. There was a campaign for him to reverse his decision – which included, apparently, thousands of letters to Carey’s home. In late March he returned to the Kilkenny dressingroom.
The second part of Carey’s intercounty career crossed over with the genesis of what was to become the greatest era in the history of Kilkenny hurling, as Brian Cody constructed an all-conquering black-and-amber empire. Carey was part of Kilkenny’s All-Ireland triumphs in 2000, 2002 and 2003.
He retired from the senior intercounty game in 2006, walking away with five All-Ireland senior hurling medals and leaving behind one of the most impressive careers in GAA history.
Since retiring, Carey has worked at various times in the media as a hurling analyst and newspaper columnist, but he also got involved in coaching and management. He managed IT Carlow to a first ever Fitzgibbon Cup final appearance in 2017. They also returned to the decider in 2020. He also had a spell as Kilkenny under-20 and under-21 manager, and in advance of the 2020 season he accepted a role as a selector under Cody with the seniors. However, Carey stepped away from the role after just one season.
Now he is facing 21 charges – 19 of deception and two of using a false instrument – and is on bail pending the hearing of what the court heard would be a complex case. Among those he is alleged to have defrauded are the billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien, retired Wexford hurler Larry O’Gorman and the former Clare hurler Tony Griffin. He has yet to enter a plea.