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Kevin Cassidy opens up on bringing Jim McGuinness into the Donegal setup & split

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

08:36 11 Jul 2019


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Kevin Cassidy has spoken about one of the remarkable ironies in GAA, in that he was key in bringing Jim McGuinness to the attention of the Donegal hierarchy before his appointment as senior football manager.

Speaking at Off The Ball's roadshow in Ghaoth Dobhair - in partnership with SuperValu - Cassidy spoke to us about his role helping to facilitate McGuinness' appointment in 2011, before being dropped by the county the same year.

"I would have played with Jim - I would have known him well. A lot of people don't know this, but John Joe [Doherty] was in as manager in 2010. He was a fantastic manager and person, but on the coaching side we were falling down that year, and I was captain.

"Jim had done wonders with the under-21s. We were training with the seniors, and we would hear the stuff that the 21s were doing and were looking on with envy, because we thought 'this lad knows what he's doing'.

"So I actually called Jim and I asked him 'Is there any way you might come in and give us a hand?' And his answer was 'Listen, I will be in but it will be when I am in control.' We respected that, and I respected that."

Cassidy went on to talk about what aspects set McGuinness apart in his mind, for a job where he brought Donegal the ultimate glory in 2012.

"When you speak to him, he is a seriously driven individual.

"When were in that [dressing] room and he spoke to us - it was just something different. The buy-in [under Doherty] wasn't there. After 2007-2010, we were coming to a point where we had to do something or we would be lost.

"I think that all the lads were ready for that [...] so when you got the chance to work with him, everybody just toed the line. I have no problem saying that he's probably one of the best people I worked with on the training pitch, in getting the best out of our players and getting the best out of our team."

"Eamon text me saying 'There's a wee bit of trouble at home here.' I didn't think anything of it. When I arrived home, there was either a message on my phone or Jim called me but I had to go to meet him.

"I arrived in Clanree and Maxi Curran, Rory Gallagher and Jim McGuinness were sitting there. Jim said 'Obviously, you know why we're here.'

"The first question he asked was 'Why didn't you tell me?'

"Looking back now, I should have told him. In my head it was a just a book - a sideline."

Kevin spoke about the logic that he used at the time to facilitate information for Declan Bogue's book.

"When I spoke to Declan, I said that I wouldn't speak to him before games.

"I suppose I was silly thinking that this way I wasn't doing any harm to the team. Because there was no way I was going to be saying 'Listen, we're playing Tyrone and we're going to beat them this way.'

"He would be coming to my house on a Tuesday after the game and would say 'How do you feel? How did you play?'

"Would I have done it again? I would probably have agreed to do the book unless Jim has told me not to!"

Kevin expanded on the conversation at Clanree, with McGuinness, Gallagher and Curran.

"The conversation itself was very quick. It was plain to be seen that neither of us could work with each other again.

 

Kevin registered surprise at the extent to which the situation became big news, as there was an understanding between both parties that silence would be kept.

"It came out over the radio that I'd been dropped. I have found out since that Jim had rung a journalist and told the journalist this. I had an issue with that because he told me that this was being kept quiet, and I was happy enough with that.

"But, it is all water under the bridge now."

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Donegal Donegal GAA Football GAA Gaelic Football Jim McGuinness Kevin Cassidy Sport

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