Former Donegal star Rory Kavanagh says he now feels “some sympathy” for the way his team-mate Kevin Cassidy was treated by Jim McGuinness in 2011.
In his new book “Winning”, Kavanagh admits he shunned Cassidy at the height of the controversy.
But he questions if his team boss was right to “cut Cassidy without hesitation and with absolutely no mercy”.
McGuinness axed Gaoth Dobhair star Cassidy for his contribution to a book called “This Is Our Year” in which he had “told stories about the team and our preparation”.
Kavanagh points out that all the Donegal players had signed a symbolic sheet at the start of each year, promising silence about team matters.
“Cass had signed the sheet and Cass had broken the bond with every one of us by working with a journalist behind our backs.
“He had broken the code by doing so and was kicked out,” writes Kavanagh.
“When I heard what he had done, I wanted nothing more to do with him 100%. I was in agreement with Jim McGuinness. And when any of us (players) talked, we only asked ourselves, how could he have done it.
“We were in a bubble and we were together in that bubble. Nobody had the right to act independently in that bubble. If I had met him at that time, I would have crossed to the other side rather than talk to him.”
Since retirement, Kavanagh’s views have softened.
“Now that I am retired and no longer in that group of footballers, I can look back objectively and feel some sympathy for the way Cass was treated.
“I have to admit I’d actually cross the street to talk to Cass if I did see him. I ask myself, now, if Jim was right to cut him as he did without hesitation and with absolutely no mercy?
“I am no longer one of them, one of the men in the dressing room, and I ask myself also that if I was Donegal manager in 2011 would I have done that to Cass?”
Elsewhere in his 206-page account of how Jim McGuinness changed the fortunes of Donegal football in four years, Kavanagh pays a heartfelt tribute to his old boss.
“He changed my life and I had grown to like him more and every year that increased. Over the four years I understood Jim McGuinness’ ways as a football manager. By the summer of 2011, he had me fully intrigued.
“After that, Jim McGuinness had me, like he had everyone else in the dressing room, mystified at times, but absolutely willing to run my entire life to his grand plans.
“It’s a pity that most of us never had a chance to thank him or tell him face to face, that he is a man and a leader who will always remain in our lives.”
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