Tuesday 20 February 2018

Murphy insists Cassidy 'stepped out of line'

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

DONEGAL captain Michael Murphy has backed manager Jim McGuinness' decision to drop All Star defender Kevin Cassidy from the squad, stating that the Gweedore man "stepped out of line".

Cassidy was axed from the Donegal panel for 2012 after co-operating with a book called 'This Is Our Year' in which McGuinness felt the player divulged too much information about the county's preparation for the 2011 championship campaign.

Cassidy lifted the lid on a number of aspects of the team's preparations, revealing that the players all relinquished their mobile phones in the hours before the Dublin match, so that details of their tactics wouldn't leak out.

He also revealed how they took inspiration from an American footballer who had a reputation for 'trash talking' to help introduce a 'nasty' side to their game as they progressed through Ulster.

The Donegal squad recently returned from a team holiday in Florida, but Cassidy, who didn't travel, got a voucher to the same value instead from the county board.


Murphy hasn't spoken to Cassidy since the row, but the Donegal captain insists McGuinness has the full backing of the Donegal squad.

"Jim had to make the decision and the county had to make the decision and that was the decision made," Murphy said.

"Kevin stepped out of line, and that was agreed by everyone. It was unfortunate. But we're looking forward to a new season and we're looking forward to rowing in behind everybody again and getting on with it."

The row marked a dour end to what had been a terrific year of progress under McGuinness. A Division 2 League title, an Ulster crown and an All-Ireland semi-final appearance, where they lost narrowly to Dublin, marked 2011 out as the county's most successful season since their solitary All-Ireland triumph in 1992.

Murphy believes it was the unity in the squad that carried them this year.

"It was a good feeling being united," he said. "Any team you go and play for you have to be united, and thankfully this year a group of fellas came together and rowed in behind one another."

Cassidy's performances earned him a second All Star and he kicked a memorable winning point against Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final, but Murphy believes the county have the talent coming through to replace him.

"A great buzz was created within the county and that helped everything, it helped club football," he said.

"There's a couple of new teams in the club championship who wouldn't normally be there, so Jim will take a look at the new players and hopefully that will add a bit of competition to the squad which is always welcomed."

Murphy was part of the International Rules squad that toured Australia and admitted that he felt a little regret for turning down the possibility of life as a professional sportsman in the AFL.

"There was a wee twinge of regret when you're training every day but then you go back to your club and you play in the Ulster Club Championship. That's something that's very, very hard to compare with."

After Donegal's run to the last four, a county title and subsequent run in the Ulster Club Championship with Glenswilly as well the trip to Australia, Murphy has been afforded little by the way of rest, but insists he'll be ready for the new season.

"I came back from Australia and I was delighted to get back into things with college again and the club. We were in the Ulster Club Championship, which was something different, something new so it was enjoyable.

"If you're winning games, they can't come quick enough. The games were coming thick and fast this year and hopefully that will continue next year."

Irish Independent

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