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Cassidy: I helped get Connolly sent off

SACKED Donegal All Star Kevin Cassidy has admitted playing a part in getting Diarmuid Connolly sent off during their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin last August.

The veteran defender - sensationally dropped by manager Jim McGuinness yesterday for revealing some of Donegal's inner secrets - has also revealed that his boss was so intent on keeping a lid on his controversial game-plan for the Dublin clash that players weren't told it until three hours before throw-in. Even then, all their mobile phones were confiscated until after the game.

Less than three weeks after being honoured with his second All Star, Cassidy has now paid the ultimate price for breaking Donegal's code of omerta.

"We had a discussion and I have released him from the panel," confirmed McGuinness, who declined to make any further comment.


However, the clear implication is that Cassidy has been dropped for revealing behind-the-scenes details of Donegal's groundbreaking season in a new book, This Is Our Year, by journalist Declan Bogue, detailing the stories of nine counties competing in the Ulster SFC through the eyes of those within the various camps.

Cassidy speaks highly of McGuinness and how he transformed Donegal's fortunes, but clearly that didn't cut any mustard with the manager.

Some of his most revealing insights focus on Donegal's semi-final clash with Dublin, when their tactics veered even beyond the blanket defence that had yielded a first Ulster title in 19 years, effectively playing with 14 men behind the ball.

Before the match, according to Cassidy, McGuinness ordered all phones to be switched off before he gathered up around 50 of them, placed them in a bag and zipped it up.

"You never, ever question Jim," he said. "Nobody was looking at each other or anything like that; it was a case that we had believed in him all year and we were going to go with this too with everything we had.

"He told us: 'This is the way it's going to go. This game could end up four-three, doesn't matter. As long as we're on the right end of the result, that's all that matters.

"The longer we keep them without scoring their first-half goal, without getting their big run for 10 or 15 minutes at the start of the game, the pressure will all be on them.

"They'll start kicking crazy wides. The Brogans are going to shoot from anywhere. They're going to get frustrated and they won't be able to understand why they can't break you down. Diarmuid Connolly is not going to get a kick on goal.

"And every time they hit a wide, they'll be reminded that they're not playing against Tyrone now'."

Connolly enters the script later, following his controversial red card (later rescinded) for a flashpoint with Donegal sub Marty Boyle.

Cassidy admits: "I didn't see Marty being struck but I saw him hitting the deck. I was straight on to the referee (Maurice Deegan), to be honest. I never used to be a player that would have done that, until this year. You do whatever it takes and it was a chance to get rid of one of their boys.

"The game was in the melting pot then, I make no bones about it. I saw it as a ticket to the All-Ireland final. I just said, 'He hit him, he hit him, he has to go'. And I said it to the linesman as well."