Sunday 17 December 2017

Cassidy: I would never have tried to get a player sent off -- until this year

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness protected his game plan for their All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin with such secrecy that he didn't reveal the details of it to his players until three hours before throw-in.

Even then he confiscated the phones of every player and members of the back-room staff to ensure that they had no more contact with anyone outside their circle until after the game.

In one of the chapters that features Kevin Cassidy, who was yesterday released from the Donegal squad over his contribution to the book, 'This Is Our Year', it's revealed that McGuinness ordered all phones to be switched off before he gathered up 50 of them, placed them in a bag and zipped it up.

He then revealed his grand plan to beat Dublin, which came within 10 minutes of working as they put 14 men behind the ball for most of the game.

The tactic drew widespread criticism for its lack of entertainment value but the element of surprise was huge.

That was acknowledged by Pat Gilroy at the launch of 'A Rare Auld Season', the book that commemorates Dublin's All-Ireland success, when he admitted it was their greatest struggle.

But according to Cassidy, everybody bought into McGuinness' plan to become even more defensive.

"You never, ever question Jim. 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."

Cassidy also reveals that he played a part in getting Diarmuid Connolly sent off in the second half.

He admits that, although he didn't see any striking action, he put pressure on referee Maurice Deegan and the linesman to send him off.

"I didn't see Marty (Boyle) being struck but I saw him hitting the deck. I was straight on to the referee, 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."

Cassidy also reveals in the book his obsession with playing against Kerry's Paul Galvin.

On the bus to the Ulster championship match against Cavan at Breffni Park in June he even watched a few minutes of "Galvinised", the documentary about Galvin, on his iPod.

"Every single day I think of Paul Galvin. I think he is the best wing-forward in the country and if we get to the All-Ireland final I hope we get them.

"I take a lot of pride in my own personal performance and I want to come up against him. Every single day I think of him.

"If I'm at training and things aren't going well enough for me or even if I am training on my own and I want to get another few runs, I just think of him."

Irish Independent

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