Wednesday 21 November 2018

Donegal hero Cassidy axed for breaking code of silence on McGuinness methods

Kevin Cassidy
Kevin Cassidy
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

All Star Kevin Cassidy has been sensationally axed from Donegal's football squad over his contribution to a book charting the 2011 championship through the eyes of 10 leading Ulster personalities.

Cassidy met with Donegal manager Jim McGuinness yesterday and was told he was no longer part of the squad.

It is a dramatic move by McGuinness, but not wholly unexpected after he called a team meeting last Friday to advise the rest of the squad that they were not to attend the book's Donegal launch in Cassidy's home parish of Gweedore on the following night.

His request was adhered to and the absence of any of Cassidy's county colleagues was a major talking point at the launch.

Cassidy was a hero figure for Donegal throughout 2011, with his points against Tyrone and Kildare hugely inspirational and helping him to a second All Star award last month.

It wasn't the nature of anything he said in the book 'This Is Our Year,' written by Fermanagh journalist Declan Bogue, but the fact that he revealed so much about how Donegal prepared that has apparently irked the manager.

McGuinness had sought to keep a tight rein on everything Donegal did in 2011, and by speaking so openly and honestly about how they went about their business, Cassidy was perceived by the management to have gone too far, so action was taken yesterday.

There had been speculation that Cassidy was about to retire anyway over the controversy.

Cassidy's contribution to the book is revealing and shines a light on the level of detail and mental preparation that Donegal undertook during the year.

In one extract, Cassidy revealed how they watched an American footballer with a big reputation for 'trash talking' on YouTube and decided to try to adopt a similar approach to introduce a 'nasty' side to their game.

Captain Michael Murphy and defender Karl Lacey approached McGuinness with a view to taking this approach prior to the Cavan game, according to Cassidy. He admitted that Tyrone free-taker Peter Harte came in for particular verbal treatment in that Ulster semi- final.

The move to release Cassidy from the squad is a strong statement by McGuinness that no one under his command is beyond reproach.

Earlier this year he dropped a young player -- Adrian Hanlon -- from the squad after the first round of the championship for a breach of discipline.

But Cassidy's status in Donegal is high and the move is bound to divide opinion, especially in Gweedore where Neil and Eamonn McGee also play their club football.

Meanwhile, Pat Gilroy will give Mickey Whelan plenty of time to reconsider his decision to step down as Dublin coach after the All-Ireland final.

Gilroy, speaking at the launch of the commemorative book 'A Rare Auld Season,' which charts Dublin's success in a series of pictures and interviews, said he would be giving Whelan as much time as he needed to decide.

"He's in his 70s, he owes nothing. I'll be leaving him alone on it for a long time. He deserves that," said Gilroy.

Irish Independent

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