Kevin Cassidy . . . features on Laochra Gael on TG4
The definitive GAA sports series Laochra Gael returns to TG4 this week for a 19th series. The hour-long format has proved a huge success, bringing each player’s personal stories to screen.
This Thursday in the opening programme of 12, Donegal's Kevin Cassidy features, and naturally his fall-out with Jim McGuinness will feature heavily.
Speaking this week, Cassidy agrees that it was an emotional rollercoaster making the programme. "I really enjoyed it and was delighted to do it.
"I haven't seen the finished article yet. It will be something to look forward to this week. The programme allowed me to look back at different teams, different games and different situations. It was very emotional but I really enjoyed doing it," said Cassidy.
But he agreed that his departure from the Donegal squad was part of it but also that there there was more to his career than that.
"Naturally, listen, the way Gaelic Games is, everyone remembers that. When anyone speaks to me about GAA, it's the first thing they want to ask. It is such a small part of the time I spent with Donegal and Gaoth Dobhair.
"Obviously, it was a massive story, the way it finished for my own career and stuff was disappointing. But listen, it is what it is. Obviously we have touched on that during the series and naturally obviously it will always be there."
Cassidy also felt that the author of the book, Declan Bogue, had taken unnecessary criticism at the time.
"I've said it to many a person. One of the main reasons I did the book, I understand that this was Declan's career; it was something he wanted to do and I genuinely wanted to help him. I didn't give a damn, to be honest, what the book was going to be about, was it going to be good for myself or good for Donegal. Nobody set out to do any damage.
"I've met you boys (press) down through the years and Declan, I've only met once or twice. I had no relationship whatever with him. He just asked me to do something and I seen it as an opportunity to help someone with their career and that's why I did it.
"Obviously people will say Kevin was wrong, or Jim was wrong. But people forget the abuse that Declan would have got. One of the first people I would have spoken to was Declan and I just reassured him that I had no ill feelings towards him or I didn't hold him accountable.
"We have had a few of those conversations and he probably felt at times that the gun was being pointed towards him. And we just wanted to clear up that it wasn't," said Cassidy, who said the treatment of Declan Bogue after the All-Ireland final of 2012 didn't sit well with him."
Cassidy says that the chance of any player doing what he did for Bogue's book in the future are very slim, given the way county squads operate at present.
"Not a hope after what happened anyway. You know what lads, the way things are going now you barely get anything out of any camp, until players finish up.
"That is probably the way things have to be. Teams are working on gaining that inch and that inch might take them to the Holy Grail. To be honest, I'm happy that the book probably helped Declan in his own career and if that happened, then that's worth it," he said.
When asked about the opportunity afforded him to come back to the squad in early 2012 when a meeting was arranged between himself, Jim McGuinness and then Co chairman, PJ McGowan, he says he took the decision not to return and was happy with the decision.
"No. And the reason for not going back, and I said this to Jim when he came to the school. And we sat down, it was a very civilized conversation and the Co. chairman was there as well. I gave my side of the story and Jim gave his side.
"And when the door was opened for me to come back, I felt there was too much damage done between myself and players who were there, players who were upset at what I had done. And I was upset at the way they reacted.
"My words to Jim were that I think it would cause Donegal football more harm if I went back in. That's why I left it where I left it. And I'm happy because if I went back in and Donegal had had a terrible year, who was to know," said Cassidy, who said that it might have been thrown back at him that going back was the cause of it.
"I felt it was best to leave well enough alone and walk away at that stage."
He did, however, feel that bridges had to be mended especially with his own clubmates in Gaoth Dobhair and he was happy that there was a good outcome there.
"When you are on a panel, you are very close to everyone in the panel because you are in the one bubble. After, to be honest, it happens anyway, when you leave the panel you don't see as much of those lads. I might bump into one or two of them at the very most.
"The lads I was eager to make it up with and eager to have that conversation with was my own clubmates. Listen, we grew up together before Donegal came on the scene and we will see each other after Donegal are finished. Those were the lads that I wanted to build those bridges with and thankfully we got that opportunity. It was just great to get back to normal," said the Gaoth Dobhair man, who said it doesn't frustrate him when he is still asked about that part of his career when he meets people on the street.
"It is just part of the GAA. I have never had any confrontational conversations around it. You just explain your side of the story."
The first of the new series of Laochra Gael with Kevin Cassidy will be screened this Thursday 7th January on TG4 9:30pm
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