BY AIDAN O’DONNELL
KEVIN Cassidy insists he would hold no regrets should Donegal go onto win Sam Maguire this year.
The two-time All-Star, who is currently playing Stateside with Donegal Boston, made a stellar contribution in last year’s championship, including arguably the point of the summer against Kildare deep into stoppage time which sent Donegal into the semi-finals of the All-Ireland.
However, the former county captain was axed from this year’s panel by manager Jim McGuinness for comments he made in a book published by Declan Bogue at the end of last season.
The Gaoth Dobhair man was one of several inter-county players who contributed to the book ‘This is our Year’, which revealed inside information into Donegal’s preparations.
But as Donegal prepare for their second All-Ireland semi-final in as many seasons, Cassidy says he doesn’t regret playing a part in the publication. “No I don’t (regret it), things happen,” Cassidy told Hoganstand.com.
“I made a decision to help Declan out with the book, I did it. There are bigger things in life than football at the end of the day. Whether Donegal won one All-Ireland or 10 All-Irelands you are still working on a Monday morning, there is still family on a Monday morning and that’s the most important thing.”
Cassidy is currently enjoying his second spell with Donegal Boston, alongside Westmeath’s Dessie Dolan, and the School Teacher admits he was at peace with himself before making the decision to head to the States for the summer.
“I had it straight in my head before I went,” he continued. “I knew they (Donegal) were probably going to win an Ulster title. I had to put the question to myself – if they went the whole way, would I be comfortable with it?
“It was a decision I had to make for my family. We are out here having a great summer. I have no regrets. I hope to see Donegal in the final. I’ll be back for it hopefully.
“When I make a decision I stick by it. I’m a great believer what’s for you, won’t go past you.
“If Donegal go on to win an All-Ireland fair play to them they are going to do it the hard way.”
Rumours had circulated at the start of the year that some form of reconciliation might occur between McGuinness and Cassidy, but the Gaoth Dobhair man believes the time has come for him to step aside from the inter-county scene.
He said: “My (inter-county) playing days are over. There are plenty of other good players to come through in Donegal who never won anything same as myself. We have to pass it on to the generation that is there. All the best to them.”
Meanwhile, Cassidy believes Donegal have improved greatly from last year and feels whoever emerges triumphant from this Sunday’s semi-final showdown between Cork and Donegal will go on to win Sam.
He added: “Jim McGuinness’s style is probably modelled a wee bit on Cork; big physical men and they are able to run, athletic as well.
“Donegal have a chance without a doubt, we have to give them credit to where they got to this year, back-to-back Ulster titles, beating Kerry and back in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
“Nobody is silly, Cork are favourites for the All-Ireland but we have seen favourites beaten before. It’s going to be a tough ask but, without a doubt, our boys are going to be up for it.
“It’s easy for me to say this here but I’d say whoever wins between Cork and Donegal is going to win the All-Ireland. Obviously we had to improve from last year.
“But the defence is still the same, the boys aren’t conceding any goals but going forward we’ve carried that wee bit more threat and when you get into places like Croke Park against the likes of Cork you have to pose a threat or you’re not going to be there or thereabouts.
“Jim has added that this year and they have it down to a tee and they’re coming fresh so it will be interesting,” said Kevin.