The spotlight from outside on Donegal and the recent Kevin Cassidy controversy reached a new low yesterday with Irish Independent columnist Vincent Hogan referring to the Donegal players as ‘sheep’ for their refusal to back Cassidy, while Pat Spillane also had his say
Ironically, after all his criticism of the Donegal team throughout the year, Pat Spillane has defended the tactics employed by Donegal during the 2011 Senior Football Championship, but Hogan is very critical of the players.
In his column ‘First Thing Monday’, Hogan asked why the Donegal players have abandoned their teammate, Kevin Cassidy in a very strong fashion and wonders if Jim McGuinness can trust on players who have abandoned a teammate and asks the question of Jim: “If these boys can turn their backs on a comrade, simply to keep you happy, ask yourself what it identifies in them?
“The loyalty of true brothers or the abject compliance of sheep?”
Hogan is unlikely to be on the Christmas card list of Donegal players and management after this rant. The criticism that Donegal received from the Sunday Game was mild compared to Hogan’s scathing remarks.
In his column in the Sunday World, Pat Spillane backed McGuinness over the issue.
“McGuinness did a damn good job with Donegal this year,” said Spillane. “They were organised, focused and disciplined, and McGuinness was well within his rights to employ whatever tactics he thought necessary to win matches.
“He’s not in the entertainment business; it’s all about achieving results.
“His record in 2011 speaks for itself – Ulster champions, promotion to Division 1 (of the National Football League) and his team boasted the best defensive record in this year’s championship. So Donegal fans can rightly argue that the end justified the means.”
Spillane, however, cautioned that what Donegal managed in 2011 should not be overstated.
“Unfortunately, though, this analysis ignores the elephant in the room,” he added. “Donegal didn’t win the All-Ireland in 2011. They didn’t even reach the final. “In other words, they came up short.”
Have to move on
Speaking for the first (and probably the last) time on the matter at the Ulster GAA Writers’ dinner in the Great Northern Hotel on Friday night where he picked up the Personality of the Year award Jim McGuinness, spoke on the issue.
“I don’t have a lot to say on it. It has been a difficult period. We’ve had ups and downs during the year and it’s not an issue to dwell on. It has been dealt with now and we have to move on from here. There has been a lot said, but we have to move forward,” said Jim.
Speaking about Donegal in general during the year, he said: “We got a lot of criticism during the year but people should understand that we are not Kerry or Cork,” said McGuinness, who said that an article in the Irish News before Christmas last year had Donegal in 19th place. “That was a good place to start and we have come a long way. We can now start to compete with these teams (like Kerry and Cork),” said McGuinness.