Crossmaglen inspired our generation says Gaoth Dobhair stalwart Kevin Cassidy
GAOTH Dobhair stalwart Kevin Cassidy says the thrill of seeing his club crest lined up against that of Crossmaglen Rangers was worth coming out of retirement for.
The former Donegal wing-back had hung the boots up but came back out last summer and picked up a third county medal, earning a shot at the provincial series as a result.
Cross had been the dominant force in Ulster prior to Slaughtneil’s emergence four years ago, but Donal Murtagh’s new-look side will never be discounted when it comes to November football.
Cassidy says the onus is on his club’s younger generation to prove their senior credentials, having come up through the ranks as Donegal and Ulster champions at various grades.
“Growing up, we sat back and watched the great Crossmaglen teams, the McEntees, the McConvilles and these boys. To be honest, they inspired a lot of our generation.
“At this stage of my career, to see my club crest come against Crossmaglen’s crest, that’s what it’s all about.
“We want these guys to drive on now, they’re a fantastic young squad. They’ve experienced that game against Cargin and they’ll experience it again against Cross.
“It’ll be massive for that current crop, and the younger generation again standing watching in. That’s what it’s about, you need people to lead the way and thankfully our young boys are doing that.”
He kicked three quick scores on the bounce before palming home the opening goal during the first half of their quarter-final win over Cargin, a game in which the Tír Chonaill men led by ten but ended up needing a late Michael Carroll goal to finally throw off the gutsy Toome side.
Whether the second half meltdown was inexperience or over-confidence, Cassidy believes it will stand to them going forward.
“These guys have played in big games all through their careers. I’m not sure they pay much attention, they just go out and play Gaelic games.
“Maybe we were expecting the onslaught and we invited it a wee bit, but thankfully we got the goal and put the tie to bed at the end.
“It’s great to come out of a game like that having a real battle, it’s a massive step-up and the boys are through it now. What a chance now to play the best of the best.”
It sets up a truly mouth-watering prospect as they meet the Armagh kingpins, back in the provincial series after a two-year absence and off the back of a narrow win over Coalisland.
Having made the breakthrough, it’s expected that Gaoth Dobhair will be around the head of Donegal football for a while to come, but having waited 12 years since their last county title, Cassidy’s well aware of the lack of guarantees.
“We spoke about that all year, it’s about making the most of it. Yes, these lads have won all around them coming up and they’re coming strong, but God knows what will happen.
“We’ve had a good run this year, no major injuries coming into the county championship. Donegal going out a wee bit earlier maybe helped us because we got our guys back a bit sooner.
“God knows what happens next year, and you want to drive it home to make the most of it.”