The boots that made Kevin Cassidy King of Croker

BOOT ROOM: Kevin Cassidy (Donegal), Puma King Finale 2
The boots that made Kevin Cassidy King of Croker
Kevin Cassidy, Donegal, celebrates after scoring the winning point against Kildare in 2011. Picture: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

BOOT ROOM: Kevin Cassidy (Donegal), Puma King Finale 2

Extra-time winning point v Kildare, 2011 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final

“I never set out to keep the boots from that day but we were clearing things out last year and I came across them. They were in a bag at the top of a press and they’re still there. It wasn’t a case of ‘oh, I have to keep them’; they’re just there.

"The reason I know they’re the ones from that game was the yellow tinge to them that Puma had on the King boot that year. Most of my career I wore Puma King. I tried Adidas a couple of times but as most lads will probably tell you it depends on the shape of your foot and Adidas are a very tight fit for me.

"The only reason I tried them was Darragh Ó Sé. He would have been one of the first in Gaelic football to wear them, with the tongue strapped down and I would have been watching a lot of him because I played midfield for the club and I wanted to emulate him. They just didn’t suit me and they didn’t really help Darragh’s shooting either!

"Puma were wider so they suited me. For two years in the late 2000s, Nike supplied me with boots. There was no financial deal: if you wanted boots, you’d ask and you’d get four pairs in the post. I didn’t like them, though, just the way they sat on my feet so I went back to Puma King.

"I think my first pair were Umbro. I would have played a lot of soccer as a kid so Umbro would have been big. A new pair of boots back then, it was the be-all and end-all. Nowadays, I’d say I go through four pairs a season. I’m not sure everyone is the same but after a wee while in training they just don’t feel the same and I need a new pair. Especially for championship.

"For our last long campaign with Gaoth Dobhair, I had a new pair of boots for every game. It sounds crazy but it gets into your mind that you need the leather to be tight. It’s superstition but that’s just the way it is. I remember playing Crossmaglen in Ulster and thinking, ‘Right, I need a new pair for these boys.’ Then I did the same for the final and again for the All-Ireland semi-final. In the space of a couple of months, I went through four pairs.

"It’s not the worst as they’re about €110 a pair when the Predators can be around €260. I might sound old-fashioned but I don’t think they make boots like they used to. Growing up, a pair of boots would last you ages but now it seems a month or two at county level because you have been wearing them five or six days a week between training with a team, training on your own and the games. I find they’re not the same quality as they were when I started out playing.”

In conversation with John Fogarty

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