Kevin Cassidy says preparing for Saturday-week’s All-Ireland club semi-final has helped restore some semblance of normality to Gaoth Dobhair again.
Last week, Gaoth Dobhair and the neighbouring parishes of Gortahork and Falcarragh united in grief following the tragic loss of four young lives in a tragic road traffic accident.
Picture: Kevin Cassidy, former Donegal and current Gaoth Dobhair footballer poses for a portrait ahead of their AIB GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Club Championship Semi-Final against Corofin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
One of the men, Micheál Roarty from Dunlewey, trained with the Gaoth Dobhair panel, as they prepared to face Corofin in next weekend’s semi-final at Carrick-On-Shannon.
“It was tough I suppose at the start, very tough,” says Cassidy.
“I think none of our players were thinking about Corofin this time last week, it was all about shock and trying to process it all. Since then we’ve kind of regrouped, we went back training the night after the funeral.”
Roarty and friends John Harley, Shaun Harkin and Daniel Scott, died instantly when the car in which they were traveling left the road near Magheroarty on January 27.
On the Saturday, Roarty took part in Gaoth Dobhair training.
Four days later, in Errigal’s shadows, they were taking their team-mate to his place of rest, the funeral cortege led by three Gaoth Dobhair players, poignantly carrying the three Cups – the Ulster Club SFC, Donegal SFC and Division 1 – they won in 2018.
Cassidy says: “It’s tough for us but for the family it must be really, really tough. All we can do is try and do as much as we can to try and help with that.
“A very talented player, a serious character. Everybody knew him. If there was ever a night out, he was always there. You’re still waiting to see him pop up or you’re still waiting to see him come out of a changing room.”
Gaoth Dobhair won their first Ulster club title in December.
Football has felt an irrelevance at times since and Cassidy is wary of turning their search for an All-Ireland club final spot into a ‘crusade’.
“It was good to be back with the boys and get back to something that feels normal to you,” the former Donegal star says.
“The last couple of days were something I’ve never ever experienced before in my life. The parish was just completely raw and numb. To get back to the sanctuary of the GAA pitch was good.
“Obviously, when it happened you don’t really care about football, to be honest. But then in the back of your mind, you’re thinking you’ve the biggest game of your life to play in a week or so time, so you have to get ready. That’s really what we’ve been doing.
“You can’t turn around and start saying, ‘we’re going to win this for Micheal’. That’s not the right thing to do for the family or for our club.
“We’ve a job to do for our club and our parish. We’re not saying we’re going to win the game for him and we’re not saying we’re going to win the All-Ireland for him. It’s not about going on a crusade. It’s about turning up and doing the best we can as a team.”Tags: