GAA fans were transfixed on the first episode of the new ‘Laochra Gael’ series, which starred Donegal legend Kevin Cassidy.
Throughout the beginning of his career, making his first appearance in 2002, Armagh and Donegal shared one of the biggest rivalries in provincial football.
Between 2002-2007, the sides clashed every season. It proved to be a one-sides rivalry however, as Armagh lost just once in those years.
Cassidy proved to be the difference in Donegal’s only win in that time, punching home a last-minute goal in the 2007 Ulster Championship.
In his weekly Gaelic Life column, the former Tir Chonaill ace spoke of how he pictured Joe Kernan’s side as the level to which Donegal had to get to.
In 2005, Cassidy “had a picture of the Armagh team in my wallet as in my head we had to topple them if we were to reach the Holy Grail.”
The former All-Star admitted that putting so much pressure on himself proved costly as “I lasted about ten minutes in our championship game against Armagh before being sent off”.
Oisin McConville, a guest on the TG4 documentary, told a tale of how Joe Kernan planned to target the inexperienced Gaoth Dobhair man, in the 2002 Ulster Final, “lets expose him”.
Armagh went on to win that game by four points and lift the Anglo Celt cup, although Cassidy’s strength caught McConville by surprise, referring to him as a “shithouse”.
Brian McEniff took over as Donegal manager in 2003 and reached the All-Ireland semi-final, where Armagh were again their undoing.
Looking back on that ’03 encounter, Cassidy believed “we should have won that game”, but McConville’s late penalty guaranteed Armagh a spot in the final.
After also losing in Ulster in 2005 and 2006, Donegal were set to take on their old rivals once more in a round one qualifier game in 2010.
The now famous game in Crossmaglen proved a turning point in Donegal’s fortunes, with Jim McGuinness taking over the following year.
That beating against Armagh actually convinced Cassidy to step aside and retire, although his former teammate, now manager, would convince him to give it one more year.
The tables have certainly turned now, as Donegal are the stronger of the two sides in recent years, winning the last three meetings between the sides.
Kevin Cassidy was a guest on our preview podcast before the Armagh and Donegal game in 2020 and spoke about the rivalry between the two sides.