All Star Axed: GAA world in shock

Former Donegal senior football team manager, Declan Bonner, last night claimed double All-Star winner, Kevin Cassidy, had been extremely naive in giving so much information to the recently launched publication “This is Our Year”.

Former Donegal senior football team manager, Declan Bonner, last night claimed double All-Star winner, Kevin Cassidy, had been extremely naive in giving so much information to the recently launched publication “This is Our Year”.

In his contribution to the book, penned by Declan Bogue, the Gweedore man gave a huge insight into the goings-on in the Donegal camp.

Clearly unhappy with how much Cassidy had divulged, Donegal manager, Jim McGuinness, met with the player on Tuesday and informed him that he was being released from the squad.

It’s understood that the first the Donegal manager knew about Cassidy featuring in the book was when he read an extract in a local paper last week When McGuinness took over last year, he made it clear to all players that they had to adhere to a certain code of conduct and behaviour. All members signed up to keeping all matters relating to the team “in-house”. Dungloe’s Adrian Hanlon was dropped from the squad mid-season for breaking squad rules, but Cassidy’s removal from the panel this week has raised more controversy.

The development has sent shock waves through the GAA world and opinion is somewhat divided on the matter, given the expression of views on forums and local radio stations. While many feel that McGuinness was right and had no option but to show Cassidy the door, there are some who believe that Cassidy has paid too high a price for his honesty.

Speaking to the Donegal Democrat last night, Declan Bonner said the only winners in the situation were the author and the publisher.

“There’s been huge interest since the news broke yesterday that Cassidy is no longer part of the Donegal set-up. I’ve been speaking to people all over the country and they’re keen to know what all the fuss is about. So the book looks like being a best seller,” he said.

“From a Donegal football point of view there are certainly no winners in all this. To be honest I think Kevin showed a lot of naivety. I know the players were asked to adhere to rules of conduct and confidentiality. While some people are surprised at what Kevin said about what went on in the dressing room, it would have been nothing overly new for those who have been involved with teams at a similar level,” he added.

“I’m disappointed for Kevin because it’s not a nice way to end a great intercounty career. He also had a go at John Joe Doherty and his management team and I think he would have been better to have said nothing rather than be critical about them. The men he was talking about have given great service to Donegal football.”

Bonner, who managed Cassidy when he was in charge in Gweedore, said he couldn’t see a situation whereby the player could make a return to the squad.

“I think the mistake he made was that he took no advice during the whole process and it wasn’t like he spoke took long in a one-off interview. Kevin’s been working as an analyst with TG4 and I’d say when he’s not wearing the green and gold of Donegal next year, he’ll be giving his views on the game on TG4.

“We’ve had a great year on the pitch, winning the league and winning the Ulster championship. But sadly, again , it will be remembered for things that happened off the field.”

R.T.E. pundit and former Donegal footballer, Martin Carney, said he believed had Jim McGuinness viewed the story before it had been published, he may have adopted a “different attitude” to it.

“It’s just a pity that this has happened when this Donegal team has risen to a level it hasn’t been at for a long while. Kevin was one of the more prominent players in the panel and he’s going to be a huge loss next year. It’s a shame that there was no prior contact made.

“Obviously Jim is taking a very serious view of the book and what was said should have stayed within the group. Kevin Cassidy is very honest but in this case he may also have been somewhat naive.”

For more see Page 40.