Chrissy McKaigue recently became Slaughtneil’s full-time Games Promotion Officer and he says he’s never enjoyed a job more.
Wasn’t it a no-brainer really? McKaigue’s passion for his home club has been evident for years and, having worked previously as a teacher, there’s no doubting the fact that he’s the perfect fit.
The role of a GPO typically involves arranging coaching in local schools and over-seeing the development of underage players in the club and McKaigue says he’s been blown by the enthusiasm of his club’s young players.
“I have recently been appointed as Slaughtneil GPO,” McKaigue tells us ahead of the AIB Ulster club hurling final.
“We’re showing a lot of ambition in terms of understanding that it can’t all be focused on the senior team. You have to put effort into underage as well.
“To try and remain relevant is the motivation of any club. And to do that, you just have to be conscious to ensure young players are coming through, because you don’t want your senior team stagnating.”Chrissy McKaigue became Slaughtneil’s first ever All-Star earlier this month.
“I can absolutely say that I have never enjoyed a job more than the last three or four months in this role,” adds the 33-year-old.
“It’s been unbelievable, so refreshing. It’s something I’m unbelievably passionate about.
“I see different GPOs working with a different club and I can understand the angle of that, to go into a club with no past relationships or biases but for me to work with my own club is the only thing I would be interested in to be honest. To have the time to do that, to be thinking about your own club, it’s something I’ve found very refreshing.
“It’s been a breath of fresh air. It’s about looking at ways to increase performance standards. I’ve been so lucky to be in a club that does so much right.
“But it’s something I’m so, so passionate about. And it’s actually something that I think will improve my own playing career because when you’re having daily conversations about sporting performance and structures, you actually realise, while you’re encouraging others to do things, and you ask ‘am I doing this in my own sporting life?’
“So far I can say that our young people in the club, their manners, respect, humility and their willingness to learn is something that is just brilliant. Talent’s one thing. We can’t all be super-talented, but we can all have a super attitude and that’s something I promote largely in the club.”
A youngster mentioned running a disco in @GACSlaughtneil
He was laughed out of the meeting.
It became the most popular disco in Ulster.
It started the Slaughtneil GAA miracle.
It built a GAA empire.
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 28, 2020
As for his own career, McKaigue is hoping to win a fifth Ulster club hurling title this weekend when his club take on Dunloy. But he rallies against the perception that Dunloy are the young pups to Slaughtneil as old dogs.
“There’s one thing I’ll correct you on.
|There’s this perception that Slaugtneil aren’t a young team. Take out myself, I affect it a fair bit, but we’ve a lot of young talent that has come through, and we have a conveyor belt below that which I’d be very hopeful of too.
“We’ve Ruairi Ó Mianán who just turned 18 in the last couple of months. Peter McCullough has just turned 19. Shea Cassidy is only just 20. Dunloy have a brilliant age profile but so have we…”
For Slaughtneil and for Derry, this is a man who seems forever young. And he doesn’t have any plans of leaving it behind him.
“I’m getting a wee bit emotional seeing all these boys around my age retiring recently, but we’ll stay away from those retirement questions just yet.”