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17th Nov 2016

Chrissy McKaigue’s praise for Mickey Moran should be a lesson to all GAA managers

This man is a legend

Conan Doherty

There was a moment that was almost scary after Slaughtneil’s semi-final win over Killyclogher.

The Derry club had advanced into what would be their third senior Ulster final in as many weeks but there were no wild scenes of celebration or emotion.

Chrissy McKaigue walked around with his fists clenched and he was still biting his teeth. He gave Brendan Rogers an aggressive high 10, patted him on the back and began to walk off the pitch. Job done. Move on.

Suddenly, getting to provincial finals are just a step on the road for Slaughtneil.

The club who have only won the Ulster football title just once, the club that won their first ever hurling title just last month are now this ravenous outfit that almost expect success and getting there to the big stage certainly is no longer what they celebrate.

Christopher McKaigue celebrates scoring a point 17/3/2015

Whether it’s camogie, hurling or football, the men and women of Robert Emmet’s Slaughtneil want to win and that’s it. Chrissy McKaigue is at the forefront of it. The Derry skipper captained his club hurlers to what was a novel victory for anyone in the county to win in the province. He’s now leading from number six with the footballers into the their second Ulster final in three years.

It wouldn’t be possible without a man like Mickey Moran though.

“Mickey’s created a model but God bless common sense,” McKaigue spoke with SportsJOE’s GAA Hour about the manager who came in in 2013 and has masterminded three Derry titles since.

“If you’re playing in a dual club, common sense has to be applied. A dictatorship just wouldn’t work in Slaughtneil and it simply has not worked in the past. There has to be a bit of give and take and the players are put at the front because, without the players, we have nothing.

“Mickey and our hurling management completely understand that and work together very closely for the betterment of the club.”

Mickey Moran almost casts a messiah figure now at this stage.

He’s the one some credit for sparking fire during a half time team talk in the All-Ireland final in 1993 when he was on Eamonn Coleman’s backroom team. He’s the one that took a poor Derry side to the championship semi-final, brought Mayo to the brink before they were getting there every year and he’s the one they rave about in Leitrim.

In Jordanstown, the first thing he told our fresher side was that this was a football club, not an athletics one. If we wanted to run, then there were plenty of mountains around the place to go check out ourselves, were his words. Here, we’d be playing football.

“I suppose Mickey’s biggest trait is that, as a club and a community, we can sometimes become a little bit too passionate and Mickey is just calm, cool, and collected about everything,” McKaigue explained.

“He calms us down, he keeps us on a level path because sometimes in the past, we’ve probably let our discipline or our focus wane a wee bit and that has come back to bite us.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve been trying to keep a lid on things and just listen to our wise, old head because Mickey has been around and he’s done it all before.

“There’s no doubt about it, what he has done and the model he has created for our club will leave a lasting legacy.”

It’s still hard to explain the rise. Slaughtneil have always been a big club and sure as hell a competitive one but their last three football titles in Derry – three in a row – are 75 per cent of their all-time championship honours.

Now they’re going for a treble of Ulsters in the one season across all codes but that wouldn’t be possible without management teams that allow it. Slaughtneil boast 12 dual players – they sure as hell need to co-operate.

“We haven’t done that much different, we’ve continued to respect the three codes.,” McKaigue said.

“Mickey Moran and Mickey McShane and the respective hurling and football management teams have got on well together and that has rubbed off on the players.

“Players who go to pull on a Slaughtneil jersey, whether you have a football in your hand or a hurl in your hand, it’s the same thing: you want to go out and you want to win with your club and that’s just the crux of it.

“If I had a young boy growing up, I’d want him playing hurling and football and that’s just being honest. That’s the way Slaughtneil has to look at things.”

Listen to the full interview below (from 36:25).

Aaron Kernan joins Colm Parkinson on The GAA Hour to explain the work he’s doing for the Club Players Association. Derry captain Chrissy McKaigue talks Slaughtneil and a Dublin club advertising for hurlers gets a sore touch. Subscribe here on iTunes.

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