FORMER DONEGAL STAR Kevin Cassidy opens up about his father’s battle with alcoholism and death in the new series of TG4′s GAA documentary ‘Laochra Gael.’
Now in it’s 19th season, Cassidy is the first GAA icon to feature in the famous GAA TV series. Viewers are in for a compelling watch as the Gaoth Dobhair man speaks candidly about several aspects of his sporting and personal life.
He talks about his upbringing in Glasgow before moving to Gaoth Dobhair and going on to become a key figure in Donegal football.
One particular scene shows Cassidy driving to a local graveyard to visit the graves of his grandmother and father, Tommy who died when he was just 58 years old.
“Things didn’t work out too good in the end,” Cassidy begins before discussing his father’s alcohol addiction and how it impacted the family.
We were very close growing up. Alcohol got a grip on him, and we just lost him to be honest. When he died, we were glad he was buried here and that we’re able to come here and talk to him or say a prayer or whatever. Even the children, they know where grandad is now.
“My father was a clever man. When we came here, he started a few different businesses. He had a restaurant, a sports shop and then he bought a pub. So things were going well and we had a good life.
“But in a pub, you’ve obviously got alcohol and he just gradually started drinking too much. He became addicted to alcohol and it was a slippery slope. One day he just left and he didn’t come back, so it was hard at that time.”
Cassidy also discusses the infamous fallout with former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness on the back of his part in the GAA book ‘This Is Our Year’ by Declan Bogue.
The incident in 2011 led to his removal from the Donegal panel and effectively ended his inter-county career.
“Maybe I should have gone to Jim and said, ‘Hey listen, I’m doing this book. What do you want me to say, what do you not want me to say?’ I didn’t give it much thought to be honest.”
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Cassidy adds that he first discovered there was a backlash to the book after receiving a text message from his Donegal and clubmate, Eamonn McGee:
“This is serious trouble here, Kevin. Jim rang me and said he wanted a meeting with me. I went out the Clanree in Leterkenny and Maxi Curran and Rory Gallagher were there, they were helping Jim.
“They were sitting there and Jim threw the book down on the table and said: ‘Is there anything you want to tell me, Kevin?’ I said, ‘No, Jim, anything that’s in there is in there. I didn’t see the point telling you because we were just focusing on the football.
He said, ‘Listen, we’ve no choice, we have to let you go.’ I stood up and shook hands with him.
“In April, Jim and I had a meeting. He said, ‘Listen, you’re welcome to come back to the panel. I didn’t think it would benefit Donegal if I was on the panel. I knew they were close to winning the big one, but at the same time, it just wasn’t right for me, and that’s the decision I made.”
Kevin Cassidy’s Laochra Gael will be aired this Thursday, 7 January on TG4 at 9.30pm.
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