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Cassidy caught out by the GAA omerta

KEVIN CASSIDY has broken the first commandment of the inter-county gospel -- thou shalt not spilleth the beans to thy neighbour. The Mafia call it Omerta. Managers call it 'keeping it in-house'.

Now Cassidy suddenly finds himself outside the Donegal tent - a victim, you might say, of his own honesty in telling all to journalist Declan Bogue for his revelatory new book, This Is Our Year.

Here is the problem with warts-and-all honesty in the GAA, however. It's frowned upon. It's not the done thing. What a reader will relish - training ground secrets, big match anecdotes, tasty morsels of dressing-room conversation - is guaranteed to cause convulsions for a manager.

Especially if that manager hasn't left the house and is already making plans for 2012.

Now, maybe Jim McGuinness has been a tad hasty, even precious, in his decision to jettison Cassidy for next season. After all, while Donegal have just landed their first Ulster title in 19 years and come within tantalising reach of an All-Ireland final, they aren't exactly overflowing with footballers boasting Cassidy's natural talent.



Exception

No team, with the possible exception of Dublin, worked harder than Donegal this year. Their commitment to the cause was writ large over ever perspiring performance. Their discipline in sticking to the game plan - while sticking two metaphorical fingers to the outraged romantics in the TV studio - had to be admired, albeit occasionally between half-covered eyes.

But would they have even reached the penultimate stage without Cassidy, scorer of that inspirational last-gasp winner against Kildare? Eh, probably not.

Three weeks ago, this veteran wing-back -- coaxed out of retirement by McGuinness last autumn - was awarded his second All Star. Now he has all next season to polish the gong.

By the same token, Cassidy's honesty could be rebranded as naivety. Did he genuinely think that releasing so many private team details into the public domain wouldn't cause internal ructions?

It's not that Cassidy has revealed some state secret in saying Donegal consciously played with 14 men behind the ball against Dublin.

But he has fleshed out the plot by telling us how McGuinness unveiled his top-secret plan to the players only three hours beforehand; made them hand over their mobiles in the process; how he told those players that the game might end up four-three and it "doesn't matter" so long as they win; how the Brogans would "shoot from anywhere", the Dubs would get frustrated and Diarmuid Connolly would not "get a kick on goal". Later still, Cassidy admits his own role in ensuring Connolly got sent off.

This is diamond material for author and reader - but McGuinness can hardly have enjoyed seeing it all in cold print. What happens if/ when Donegal go tete-a-tete with Dublin again next summer? The last thing a team wants is unwanted hostages to fortune.

Cassidy is just one character in Bogue's tome which focuses on the 2011 championship adventures, and misadventures, of all nine Ulster counties. But this retelling of the Dublin showdown is not the only detail that will have irked his now-former manager.

The book ends with the following snapshot, laced with retrospective pathos, from the evening that Donegal's All-Ireland dream died.

"See you next year, so," said McGuinness, to which Cassidy (who had promised himself and his wife all year that 2011 would be his last) could only say: "Without a shadow of a doubt, Jim."

By going public, he has ensured the very opposite.


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