Chrissy McKaigue: 'It is great that we are playing'
By Cian O’Connell
It was another campaign packed with success and silverware for Slaughtneil in Derry.
Chrissy McKaigue’s role in a glorious decade for Slaughtneill will never be underestimated, but 2020 brought all sorts of new problems for everyone throughout the world.
Sport, though, still occupied a central role in lives so the return to action in July following months of inactivity brought a sense of joy and relief.
“I don't know if it was necessarily a worrying period, but I think frustration was probably the main emotion I'd imagine most people felt,” McKaigue reflects.
“I know we felt it, and I felt it, not knowing if you could plan or should be planning, that was probably the only thing that was a bit unsettling. I suppose that still exists to a certain extent now.”
McKaigue highlights the manner in which Derry prepared for the recent Allianz League Division Three clash against Offaly at Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park.
“I know in the weekend past travelling down ourselves to Offaly in one day, having no team meeting or no team meal,” McKaigue adds.
“Preparation is very different now compared to what it used to be. It is great that we are playing, I don't think anybody has any qualms with the fact that we are playing, and we are doing things following protocols. One can't deny it is very different and it is certainly brought lots of new challenges.”
Derry host Armagh in the Ulster SFC at Celtic Park on Sunday with McKaigue encouraged by the manner in which players have embraced the various challenges since March.
“I think the playing groups across all of the codes in the country deserve huge admiration for how they have gone about their business,” McKaigue responds.
“Nobody has made any excuses, they have tried their best to accommodate the League fixtures, they have tried their best to be respectful of the protocols - just did their best to do the right thing. That is ultimately keeping the competition going in some description.
“Now we all know that things are very different and they are difficult. I don't think we can deny that, but the right thing is to keep the competitions going. Hopefully the competitions will be completed this year.”
Slaughtneil’s hurlers and footballers enjoyed another productive stint. Reclaiming the football crown in a highly competitive environment mattered deeply.
“Certainly, we set our stall out at the start of the year to try to get the county title back,” McKaigue admits. “We felt as a group of players that had achieved a fair bit that in the years prior it wasn't good enough not being in the county final two years prior.
“We thought at a certain stage of the year around March that we wouldn't even get a chance to compete in it. So we were happy enough to get it played. A couple of days after we played Magherafelt in the county final activities were ceased. We were relatively lucky.”
Fortune frequently favours the brave.