You go to the All-Ireland hurling final and see quasi rock bands playing during halftime and think to yourself, "Well, hell, the GAA at least has a foothold in the last decade of the last century, and maybe even a toe in the new millenium'. And then in the dead of winter you get a reminder that modernity has always been the Association's biggest foe.
Kevin Cassidy won't be playing football next season for Donegal. The iron fist of Jim McGuinness has come down hard on him after his unguarded contribution to a new GAA book. It probably shouldn't make a difference that Cassidy gave football fans one of about four true memories from last year's Championship, though of course it does.
The causes can be found, we're led to believe, in the pages of Donal Bugue's This Is Our Year (a book you can't even buy on Amazon and has no website that we can find). According to accounts, Cassidy, a former Donegal captain, candidly shared his thoughts on Donegal's flunky old regime, which can hardly be a sackable offense, to borrow a soccer phrase, considering the shambles of Donegal football pre-McGuinness. No, his real sin, we're guessing, was lionising his manager and writing about their training sessions.
The revelations are as follows:
"We might have warmed up with the ball for half an hour. Then we go into sprints, eighty-metre sprints, one hundred-metre sprints, shuttle runs, cones on twenty yards either side of you and you have to sprint to the cones and back again.
"You have four men in a line, and if there is any more than a second or two seconds of a difference between the four men, you go again. There is no slacking off, there is no way out. It's the hardest I've ever trained in my life."
My God! How dare Cassidy describe a more intense spin-off of every other senior intercounty training regime. McGuinness may demand more in training, he may be a hard ass - but everyone in gaelic football already knows that. Does McGuinness really think that Cavan, Down, Tyrone, Armagh etc will have an edge next season because of Cassidy's 'revelations'?
Cassidy also reveals that Donegal watches youtube videos of Philly's Brian Dawkins to get themselves psyched. So what? The internet has millions of clips of jacked up athletes ripping off people's heads. I assume every country has their own version of Wolverine Dawkins.
The crime for Cassidy is daring to be interesting. Would Harte or Ke
ernen have dropped Canavan or McGeeney been dropped for writing autobiographies in the middle of their careers? Very possibly, but that doesn't make it excusable. We didn't find McGuinness's football tactics as appalling as most this summer, but this sort of overbearing move is downright dictatorial. He insists his players remain muted, colourless football drones. He coaxed Cassidy out of intercounty retirement, and when Cassidy does something as brazen as openly discuss his thoughts on the game he's given his life to, he's banished into the wilderness. Even within the Soviet-style collective ethos that McGuinness fosters, it is one individual moment of genius that epitomises Donegal's 2010 summer. Who will be there to have the balls to kick that point next summer?
It makes us wonder what kind of secrets McGuinness is trying to keep in camp.