“Some days it works out, some days it doesn’t.”
Chrissy McKaigue won’t gloat or brag about bringing the best player in Ireland to his knees and dominating him.
He won’t lap up the applause for a performance in Newry that would restore your faith in magic.
Listen, McKaigue is a talented footballer. Athletically, he’s one of the best in the country and that’s a big reason why Sydney Swans gobbled him up when he came straight out of minors. He’s more than capable of mixing it with the best but what he did for 60 minutes on Saturday was beyond the realms of what we once thought possible.
He dominated Diarmuid Connolly. He snuffed him out. He harried him and he drove him back and ran the show for Slaughtneil. He kicked a third of his side’s scores in the All-Ireland club semi-final whilst simultaneously keeping tabs on one of the most fearsome attackers of all time.
Chrissy McKaigue 24 possessions & 0-4…Diarmuid Connolly 9 possessions 0-1 Hammer the hammer #TheToughest
— Michael McMullan (@malmcmullan) February 12, 2017
It was one of the all-time great performances but Chrissy McKaigue wants to win an All-Ireland. Nothing else.
“The bigger the match, you always want to play the best you can and things worked out well the other day,” McKaigue appeared on this week’s SportsJOE’s GAA Hour podcast.
“But, look, I’ve been around long enough now to know that, when you play well, it’s definitely an added bonus but, when you get to these stages of the competition, you just want to win.”
The Derry man discussed the victory with Colm Parkinson but he says that he wasn’t losing much sleep over the prospect of who he was marking.
“The moment you start getting too worried about the opposition is the time you start to panic,” McKaigue explained.
“Our biggest strength over the last number of years is that we worry about ourselves first and foremost because you have plenty to worry about.
“You give the opposition the full respect. Connolly is arguably the best player in the GAA world at the minute but you can only play as well as the players around you because it’s a team game. We have some really strong characters in the dressing room and on the pitch and, when you have them kind of people around you, you do feel energised and inspired.”
— SportsJOE GAA (@SportsJOE_GAA) February 11, 2017
What he doesn’t like though is the narrative that’s followed his performance. Some people love to kick a man when he’s down. Especially when that man is as divisive and, yes, as good as Diarmuid Connolly.
“Some days it works out and some days it doesn’t.,” McKaigue put it simply on The GAA Hour football show.
“There’s no shame in getting beat by the better man some days – it’s going to happen, it has happened to the best players.
“People are saying a lot now about Diarmuid Connolly now but it’s maybe more of a compliment of how good a player he is that people are talking about my performance.
“People need to have a wee bit more respect for what the man’s achieved.”
And McKaigue’s four points? He won’t blame Connolly for those either.
“When you’re a half forward in Gaelic football now, you have an obligation to defend,” the Derry native said.
“You have an obligation to go back and sometimes that invites the attacking player onto you and sometimes there’s very little you can do because you can be caught tracking someone else.
“I personally thought that the way to mark Diarmuid Connolly would be to give someone like Brendan Rogers the job to just go out and play on him all the time and forget about trying to attack.”
Good job Mickey Moran made the decision in the end. The result was one of the finest ever displays on a football field. The result was a place for Slaughtneil in the All-Ireland final.
Listen to the full , brilliant interview below. Chrissy McKaigue comes onto the show after 58 minutes.