Donegal Manager, Jim McGuinness’s decision to drop Kevin Cassidy from the panel with immediate effect, is one which in time will turn out to be a very brave decision or a very foolish one that he will come to regret.
Clearly, McGuinness was greatly displeased that the Gaoth Dobhair,clubman had revealed much about the training methods and team tactics of Donegal during the season but above all most in the county who know McGuinness – and many who don’t – believe that the underlying cause for such seemingly draconian action was that Cassidy had effectively been collaborating with author Declan Bogue ‘throughout the season’ with Management permission – which clearly would not have been given.
Today, Cassidy is likely to give his version of events in the “Gaelic Life” magazine which is edited by one ….Declan Bogue. Since neither McGuinness nor Cassidy has thus far made any significant comment on the issue Cassidy’s thoughts today are likely to either put the story to rest, once and for all OR become the opening words in a long saga that could go on throughout the Winter months and do immense damage to the county’s chances of progressing further in 2012. At this stage it is difficult to believe that Cassidy will not respond with a very detailed statement.
The Gaoth Dobhair man had been sensationally dismissed from the County panel after a Tuesday meeting in Letterkenny with manager McGuinness.
“We had a discussion and I have released him from the county panel,” is the only meaningful comment from McGuinness thus far.Indeed he added that he would be making no further comment on the subject, something he may well need to reconsider if Cassidy as seems likely, has much more to say on
the subject . Cassidy is an outspoken guy who usually shoots from the hip. He has often contributed to GAA programmes on TG4 as an analyst and will no doubt be in demand to do so again.
The real beneficiary of this squabble will of course be Declan Bogue since the newly-published book ‘This Is Our Year’, which was already destined to sell well in Northern GAA circles is now certain to shoot to the top of the sporting books charts throughout the land . Already it is on sale not only through the major Irish booksellers like Kenny’s but also worldwide through Amazon.
While McGuinness wouldn’t discuss the issue, it is understood that he was angered at comments made by the player in the book ‘This Is Our Year’. Whilst the County Board will be anxiously awaiting developments it is sure that their support will be for their Manager. They are unlikely to respond favourably to calls from within the county and certainly not from outside to hold any form of investigation. But silence is not always golden.
Cassidy’s year with Donegal is but one of nine stories told and provides a revealing insight into Donegal’s preparations.
In one chapter he reveals that the inspiration for wristbands worn during the Ulster quarter-final against Cavan came from former American football safety Brian ‘Wolverine’ Dawkins.
“It just jumped out at me that this guy was exactly like half of our team – a lovely lad off the field, but an animal on it,” Cassidy opines.
“I asked Maxi to bring the laptop to training and put it on YouTube. I wondered if there was anything of this that we could tap into because we were too nice.”
In another chapter , the team’s training methods are revealed . “Jim’s warm-ups are unbelievable.”. “You feel like dying in the middle of them. We might have warmed up with the ball for half an hour. Then we go into springs, eighty-metre sprints, one hundred-metre sprints, shuttle runs, cones on twenty yards either side of you and you have to sprint to the cones and back again.
“You have four men in a line, and if there is any more than a second or two seconds of a difference between the four men, you go again. There is no slacking off, there is no way out. It’s the hardest I’ve ever trained in my life.”
Ironically, Cassidy’s opinions on McGuinness are pretty favourable throughout the book though his views on previous Management teams are considerably less so. Even more ironically it took considerable persuasion from McGuinness to tempt Cassidy back to the fold and out of retirement only last Autumn since he had retired following the defeat to Armagh earlier that season. And what a come-back. Cassidy won a first Ulster title, and who will forget that amazing winning point against Kildare that put the Donegal men in the All-Ireland semi-final and that long to be forgotten match against eventual champions Dublin.
Cassidy’s year – on the field – ended with his being one three Donegal players named on the All-Star team for 2011. Now that career seems over as he has effectively been banned from playing for his native county. McGuinness clearly feels aggrieved and that he had been betrayed. Initial opinion in Donegal is mixed. Many fans support Cassidy though an equal number feel that McGuinness had no choice. There are also those who feel that permanently dropping Cassidy is a major error of judgment which will come back to haunt the Manager if Donegal fail to retain their Ulster crown and many others are already betting that it will not be very long before “peace breaks out” and Cassidy will return to the fold. That seems unlikely for McGuinness rarely changes his mind on any subject.
Whilst the likeable Cassidy has made no comment that silence will not last long, and later today we expect to hear his views. Only last Saturday at the book launch in his native Gaoth Dobhair, the player said that he had simply offered his opinion.
He said: “I said from day one that it would be honest – there was no point in keeping details away or trying to be nice to this person or that person. It was just my opinion on things.”.
McGuinness had even prior to then been annoyed since it is widely reported that he had “banned” Cassidy’s Donegal team mates from attending the launch, to which most had been invited. One wonders if indeed McGuinness himself had by then even read the book in full? Unlikely it seems and more probable that his real annoyance is that he had not been consulted at any stage by Cassidy before partaking in such close co-operation with journalist Declan Bogue.
We await the next instalment with great interest. Silence is not always Golden.