Kevin Cassidy Interview
May 1993, Manchester United had just won the inaugural English Premier League title, All That She Wants by Ace of Base was flying high at number 1 in the charts, while box office hit Jurassic Park was released before making over $1 Billion, and also Kevin Cassidy made his Senior football debut for Derrygonnelly Harps.
So way back in 1993, the then Derrygonnelly Harps management team of Donal Fee and Hugh Kelly brought in a skilful and determined 18 year old in at wing half back and the Derrygonnelly club have never looked back.
His first ever Senior Football Championship game was against St Patrick Donagh in Teemore and just two seasons later the Harps club would win a first ever Fermanagh Senior Football Championship title with a 3-6 to 1-10 victory over Lisnaskea Emmet’s.
Cassidy admits the past 25 seasons has gone by like a flash, “To be honest I have absolutely loved every bit of it. I have been involved in plenty of sides from Derrygonnelly to Fermanagh and I just feel this group of players are right up there with any group of players I have been involved with.”
So what does Cassidy love most, he is training Tuesday evening, Friday evening, the odd Sunday morning, while driving to weddings and not being able to stay over is a constant quibble for Kevin and his wife Cathy, “Yes it can be a bit of a drain at times but going up to the field and being with the lads, although you’re up there to bust yourself and do as well as you possibly can, it’s a social thing too. You’re out, it’s a release, you’re talking with your friends, it’s not all doom and gloom. Training does be a good bit of craic and I’m sure the wife Cathy is happy to get me out of the house as well,” he jokes.
The 42 year old Civil Servant knows that the end is soon but he doesn’t look at it that way, “Realistically I don’t want to retire, I just love playing football – it keeps me in shape and I love the buzz of match days. Mentally you have to want to be there as well, regardless of the physical aspect. Over the past couple of seasons I have done alot of work myself during the Winter months and not came out to train until April and in that way it makes me a little bit fresher. I just love playing for Derrygonnelly Harps and I’ve been lucky to have won 6 Fermanagh Senior Football Championship titles with them. The desire to keep training for as long as possible is the big drive for a lot of people including myself.”
So on Sunday Derrygonnelly Harps will appear in a first ever Ulster Senior Club Championship Semi Final when they take on Cavan Gaels, Cassidy admits the squad is quietly confident of causing an upset, “It’s a big game, there’s no point in playing it down.”
He continued, “They can probably count themselves unlucky not to have been involved in other Ulster Club Semi Finals but the likes of Ballinderry, Crossmaglen and now Slaughtneil have came around with some fine teams, so I think the game this Sunday takes on a life of its own as it gives two sides who would not usually be in this position to make a Final. But there’s a huge belief in the squad that we can really compete and win. This is the biggest game Derrygonnelly have ever been in.”
Kevin Cassidy’s class and effect is right up there with the best footballers to ever grace a pitch in Fermanagh. If Derrygonnelly really are going to mount an ambush on Cavan Gaels then they’ll need their silently deadly, undefined genius at the very peak of his considerable powers.