Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

GAA: Touch of Cass

Damian has Bellaghy moving in right direction

IN playing terms Damian Cassidy is a seasoned championship campaigner.

BELLAGHY v CAVAN GAELS

(OMAGH, 2.30pm)

IN playing terms Damian Cassidy is a seasoned championship campaigner.

Five Derry senior championship medals with Bellaghy, one Ulster club and an All Ireland club decider appearance 10 years ago is some achievement by any standards.

But in managerial terms he admits to being something of a novice. And yet in only his second season with Bellaghy he led them to county championship honours - something they had failed to achieve in the previous five years.

In the AIB club provincial quarter-final the Derry champions travelled to the home of Crossmaglen Rangers and came away with a famous victory.

Cassidy is quick to play down that achievement, but - who knows - that victory might yet prove a defining moment in their season.

He argues that winning the Derry championship was much more important for after all they had a trophy to show for their efforts.

"The important thing from our perspective is that we move on.

"There is absolutely nothing to be gained from looking back. It's the players who have to stay focused and get things right.

"Many a good man knew how to beat the opposition, but just didn't have the players to do it.

"We got a cup for winning the Derry Championship - but only a slap on the back after beating Crossmaglen," he stressed.

There is always the danger in any sport that players will take their eye off the ball and that is one of Cassidy's main concerns.

Again he insists that you won't win championship matches unless at least two thirds of the team step up to the mark.

What has pleased him immensely though was the obvious self belief that ran through the side when they played Crossmaglen in the quarter-final.

Having played the game at the highest level has to be a plus for the Bellaghy manager, but he won't read too much into that.

"It's hard to know just how important it is to have played the game. Look at Sean Boylan who never played at that level and yet won four All Irelands with Meath.

"As a manager you can legislate for so much, but you are still dependant on the players doing it out on the pitch," he said.

So far the players have played their part. Towering midfielder Joe Diver looked the part against Rangers and kicked two excellent points for good measure.

Before that he was man of the match in the Derry county final win over Loup.

For Cassidy it was reassuring to see his defence so compact and composed in the quarter-final, Paul Diamond and Michael McGoldrick especially outstanding and an often criticised attack responded with five of the six forwards getting their name on the scoresheet, full forward Joe Cassidy rediscovering the form that once made him a Derry regular.

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