In Focus: Chris McKaigue
CHRIS McKaigue is a player who is driven to succeed. He was drafted onto the Derry team by Paddy Crozier as a teenager, but only really caught the eye as part of Damian Cassidy’s panel in 2009.
His performances as a county footballer were so good that they drew the attention of AFL club Sydney Swans and at the end of 2009, he headed down under to try and make his mark as an Aussie Rules player.
At the end of 2011, with the offer of another rookie contract on the table, the 22-year-old McKaigue decided that it was time to return to Ireland, and he came back last September.
RS: How has this year, spent with Derry, been different from last year, when you were a Sydney Swans player?
CMcK: I suppose that it has been different for a number of years. I have had to get a lot of personal things sorted out, coming back home, getting relocated, getting work sorted out. It was too late to get into university so I went into open university and got enough credit that I will hopefully be able to get into University of Ulster in Jordanstown in September.
At the start it was pretty stressful getting stuff sorted out. I suppose that one thing that football does is take your mind off things, it lets you relax a bit. It has been a tough year, but we are in the summer months now when football is more enjoyable, regardless of what the scenario is, so hopefully we can have a good club season.
RS: When you returned, how important was it to get back to playing football?
CMcK: It was my biggest priority. One of the biggest reasons why I went to Australia was to improve myself to come back and play Gaelic Football. I wanted to come back and see how far I progressed. I was a bit naive in thinking that after two years away from Gaelic Football I was going to come straight back in and settle into a different game.
It is probably only now that I am starting to feel the benefits of my time away. I know what training I have to do, and how to prepare my body to peak at the right time of the year. Coming into the summer, with the harder ground, and better weather, that suits me a bit more than being bogged down in bad weather in February-March time. I suppose you’ll not know till after the summer how well you are going, but you can always plan, and hope, to peak at that time of the year.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday August 2. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here