After a momentous week for the GAA in Donegal, the Kevin Cassidy story continues to make the national headlines despite Ireland almost certainly sealing qualification for the European Championships with their 4-0 away win in Estonia on Friday night.
Every day this week the national media have been obsessed with the story of Kevin Cassidy and his involvement with a book ‘This Is Our Year’ by Fermanagh journalist Declan Bogue.
Most top GAA commentators such as Martin Brehony are offering an opinion on the issue, which began with Tony Boyle expressing his disappointment with Cassidy’s comment on the previous county management in the Donegal Democrat just ten days ago.
After that the book launch took place in Gaoth Dobhair a week ago last night and then the real story began when Jim McGuinness ‘released’ Cassidy from the Donegal panel after he met with the Gaoth Dobhair man on Tuesday afternoon.
McGuinness did not outline why he had taken the action, but most people believe it was because Cassidy crossed the line in not adhering to an ‘agreement’ which the panel had taken to not reveal their team tactics and preparation. It is also believed that McGuinness was not aware that Cassidy was collaborating with a journalist to produce an end-of-year book.
The fall-out has continued all week with most former managers asked to comment and others, who have sated their ego by putting the county manager’s cap on and made their views known.
John Joe Doherty put his view on RTE Radio on Thursday night. “What Kevin was thinking, I don’t know,” Doherty said.
“He should have always foreseen problems down the line. There are plenty of things in the book that I would take issue with myself. For example there was talk about a player revolt. I took it upon myself to make a couple of calls to a few senior Donegal players that are still involved in the team.
“They said that it was the first they’d heard of this players’ revolt. I think the problem was the shroud of secrecy that was over the book right from the word go. The manager (Jim McGuinness) wasn’t aware this was going on, so I think that’s where the problem was,” said John Joe.
Could it be that Kevin Cassidy felt that 2011 was going to be his last year as a Donegal player when he made the decision back in January? At the time he made the decision to become involved in the book, he hardly expected to have league and championship medals and an All-Star in his pocket by year end.
The week ended with Cassidy, issuing a statement which probably widened the gap between himself and county management, saying he had not regrets
Kevin Cassidy’s statement was:
“It is with great regret that following the events of Tuesday, it appears my inter-county career is over.
“From my debut in 2002, I always took an immense pride and gave my all when playing for Donegal, and I hope supporters appreciate that. I have also been blessed with the boys I played with and I wish them all the very best of luck with their efforts in the future.
“This time last year I had retired, but was persuaded back to give one more year for Donegal. It meant that I left my wife Sarah at home most nights with our new-born twins, Aoife and Nia. It was a huge commitment for Sarah to make as well, and given some reflection on recent days, it was one that would have been selfish of me to ask again for in 2012.
“Our achievements this year were incredible and the times we shared will stay with me forever. It was an incredible time to be a Donegal player. At the end of the season there was a sense of unfinished business, but due to present circumstances it will remain as that for me.
“Last January, Declan Bogue approached me and asked me to take part in the book, ‘This Is Our Year.’ It was something I was very interested in as I thought it was a good idea.
“I didn’t run it by the team management because I was totally focussed on our goals for the year ahead, and didn’t feel it would impact on the team. I don’t believe it affected my performances.
“Anything I talked about in the book was only my opinion on where Donegal were coming from, and how we needed to change to reach the heights we did. I never intended any disrespect to any opponents or Donegal people.
“I don’t regret my part in the book. It was with total honesty that I approached it and I don’t believe I revealed any secrets within the squad. Anything that I discussed had been said before the publication.
“But it should also be noted that I was only one of ten representatives from the counties involved.
“While I am sad to leave the Donegal panel, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and committing to Gaoth Dobhair CLG. I remain a Donegal man and supporter and wish the county all the success in the future.
“I wish to thank every manager I have ever played under, right until this point. I learned so much from them and appreciated all their efforts. My respect for them is apparent in the book, when read in its’ full context,” concluded the statement.