Chrissy McKaigue: The camogie win has inspired us

6 March 2017; Chrissy McKaigue, Slaughneil, is pictured ahead of their clash with Dr.Crokes in the AIB GAA Senior Football Club Championship Final in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

Chrissy McKaigue has been instrumental in his club’s campaign to the AIB GAA Senior Football Club Championship Final. The dual player will line out with his clubmates in Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day as they face Dr. Crokes of Kerry.

Both teams have endured long, tough campaigns to reach what is the pinnacle of club football but Slaughtneil’s season has been unprecedented. A remarkable run to the semi-final in the hurling as well as the club winning the AIB All-Ireland Camogie Final means McKaigue and the players from all three panels can be tremendously proud of their season so far.

Slaughtneil showed their character in the semi-final against St. Vincent’s of Dublin when they held on to win by two points against the 2014 champions. McKaigue marked Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly for the game and finished with four points including three huge scores in the second half. Players like McKaigue will need to be in inspired form again in the final in order to overcome a strong Dr Crokes outfit that boast several footballers on the Kerry senior panel including talismanic players such as Colm Cooper and Daithi Casey.

With the club already having won the camogie, McKaigue believes the pressure has been somewhat relieved on his team though he is looking to the girls for inspiration, “Being here (Croke Park) and seeing the girls winning, seeing what it takes, is a massive help to us. What they went through, physically and mentally, was just inspiring. They've shown everyone the way in Slaughtneil. The overriding emotion was relief. After going into three All-Ireland campaigns, and the hurling ending sadly enough, you were thinking 'please can we get over the line in just one of them?'

"So the club's back on a bit of high now after the girls' win. Watching the way they play, you can't help but be inspired by how hard they work and how committed and together they were, it just did the heart good. Becoming the first Derry club to win an AIB All-Ireland senior camogie title is just an incredible feat and their victory was just brilliant for the morale of the club.

"I don't think there was one person from Slaughtneil that wasn't there! Our club is fantastic at supporting all our players all the same, whether camogie, hurling or football and it'll be the exact same on March 17.

"So many people thought the heartbreak of (losing club football final in) 2015 would have set us back but it has actually galvanised us and we're a much better team after that experience. Now we're in a final again we have to embrace it and show gratitude that we're in it but, ultimately we have to go out to win it, the very same as Dr. Crokes are trying to do."