Kevin Cassidy's training and diet routine is some example for all club veterans
How quickly things can change.
Daire Ó Baoill was in the dressing room two years ago when, after a thirteen point loss to their rivals Glenties, Gaoth Dobhair's Kevin Cassidy decided he'd had enough of it all.
Retired at 34, Cassidy felt the best thing to do was to leave a spot in the dressing room for men like Daire Ó'Baoill to fill.
"I knew these guys were on the way up but I knew also that we were around for a long time and we'd underachieved. I thought at the time, the best thing to do was for a couple of the older lads like myself to leave the space for these younger fellas to come through," said Cassidy on a recent episode of The GAA Hour.
The young brigade Ó Baoill, Cian Mulligan, Michael Carroll, Odhran Ferry, Kieran Gillespie and co. took over but Cassidy was about to make a u-turn.
Those men had dragged him back in.
He can do it all but the @gaothdobhairclg hero only wants to play one kind of football https://t.co/kqkubIAWUU
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 29, 2018
"At the start, it was just to come off the bench to help them, but after the hurt of last year's semi-final loss (again to Glenties,) I was like right, I'll give it everything I have and see what shape I can get into," he continued.
This is the shape he's gotten into.
Ó Baoill was only delighted to have Cassidy back, so were the rest of the boys and Gaoth Dobhair have cleaned up in Donegal and on Sunday they're hunting an Ulster title because of it.
“When you were younger, it was all about Kevin Cassidy, Neil and Eamon McGee. You were always looking up watching them on tv. They were the big dogs like. When you were younger you wouldn’t really think you’d get the chance to play with them. It’s brilliant going into games with them. When they switch on for games, that’s when you switch on too...They guide us through," said Ó Baoill at an AIB club launch on Wednesday.
And now Gaoth Dobhair have the perfect mix. Ten of the team won an Ulster under-21 championship earlier in the year and then they've the experience of the two McGees and Kevin Cassidy to boot.
It's not just experience Cassidy brings to the table, as Ó Baoill says, he's absolutely lording it at full forward.
"The man is hard to touch at the minute with the two feet on him. We’ve bets at home if he’s left footed or right footed like. I think he’s glad now that he’s back, without him we probably wouldn’t be where we are either."
But it's no fluke that he's on fire. It's a testament to the routine, in training and in his diet, that the 36-year-old follows.
“It’s mad, it’s just how professional he is. Even his lifestyle at home, he’d have a good routine. He started his own company now Smart Meals, it’s all about the diet for him now at that age group...At training he might not do as much running as us but what he does he’ll do 110% and that’s what all them other boys do," says Ó Baoill.
“It just goes to show, you don’t have to be down two or three hours trying to do all these different things - as long as you give 40/45 minutes just to keep things ticking over...He had all the skills and that since he was a young man like…"
He doesn't go for as long but he goes twice as hard when he goes. A lesson for the elder statesmen.
Cassidy puts his fitness down to the coaching in Gaoth Dobhair.
"It's down to our coach and trainer Michael Boyle, we started back last January. It was just specific programmes and training is enjoyable. It's not overly tough at certain times, we did put in the hard work, but it keeps you smart and keeps you focused...I don't think I've missed any training this year, not out of being great or anything, it's just that you want to be there, even if it's lashing, you want to go down because the sessions are enjoyable..."
A lesson for coaches too, keep it short, keep it sweet.