Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy: There’s something special about this kid

BIG FAN...Kevin Cassidy has a soft spot for Eoin McHugh

BIG FAN…Kevin Cassidy has a soft spot for Eoin McHugh

AS a spectator you would have to be pleased with the entertainment value of last weekend’s games. I’ll get to the individual teams in a moment, but what struck me about the games was the fitness levels of players for this time of year.

It has been the norm for sometime now that there is very little downtime for a player if you are part of a county team; players are virtually training all year round.
Teams that exit the championship at an early stage are hauled back as early as September by their respective managers and handed their running and conditioning programmes.

For any team lucky enough to last the distance in the Championship, then all you have is a few weeks off until the New Year comes into sight and it’s time to get back on the wagon. Gone are the days of players arriving back to pre season carrying an extra few pounds, our players look after themselves so well that after a week or two they can get back up to match pace.


This results in our National League games becoming extra competitive, which can only be good for us as spectators.

I was impressed by a few teams last weekend and also hugely disappointed by others. On Saturday night Donegal, regardless of the quality of opposition, delivered an impressive display.
I was impressed by some of their younger players and as I said here a few weeks ago, it’s vital for Donegal that they find at least four newcomers to their starting 15 if they want to challenge.

Credit must be given to Rory Gallagher for trusting these young guys and giving them their chance. I was really impressed by Eoin McHugh, I have seen him develop over the last few years at club level and for me he is probably the most talented of the McHugh cousins.

Mark and Ryan are excellent at what they do and are good ball players but I noticed a few years back that there was just something special about this kid. Eoin has natural ability in abundance and has pace to burn but the trait I admire most about him is that he always plays with his head up and he can see things opening up in front of him.

Ciaran Thompson and my own club-mate Micheal Carroll have also impressed me and I look forward to seeing more of those two as the season progresses. Donegal look focused and with the injection of youth things look bright for the summer ahead.

I watched the Dublin and Kerry game late on Saturday night and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It’s no secret that I am a huge admirer of the Dubs, I just love watching them as they go for the jugular every time they attack. They have serious talent at their disposal and it’s frightening to think of what they can do in years to come.

Last Saturday night saw the return of Paul Mannion, I played alongside Paul last summer in Chi Town when we both played for the John McBride’s club over there. Paul is a serious talent his pace, strength and accuracy is astonishing and I have no doubt he will go on to have a big season for the boys in blue.
Even at this early stage it’s clear to see with the amount of talent they have to pick from that’s it’s going to be a big ask for anyone to wrestle Sam from their grasp this year but that’s for another day.

On the other side of the scale two teams whom with I was seriously disappointed with was Down and Mayo. We can butter it up however we please but from what I saw last weekend these two teams look to be in serious trouble this year.

Some might say that it’s a little premature to judge like that considering both have players yet to come into the team but I have to say neither team gave me anything to be optimistic about.

Down were absolutely awful, they posed no threat whatsoever and didn’t even look like reaching the oppositions 45 never mind getting into the scoring zone. They have players to come in but even at that I’m afraid they are going to struggle.

Mayo really surprised me. After their off field stance on last year’s management team they were always going to be under the microscope so to deliver a performance like they did last Sunday simply baffled me. Stephen Rochford spoke after the game where he highlighted that they were later than everyone else getting back this year but for me that’s not the issue at hand.

The only player to show that he may have something to offer is the young O’Shea lad, Connor. The rest looked so out of their depth and for Mayo to even consider challenging they are going to need five to six new faces and it’s difficult to see where they are going to come from.

We started with a bang in terms of quality last weekend and long may it continue as its great to have positive things to discuss about our beautiful game for a change.

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