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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019
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Chrissy McKaigue isn't a fan of the Super 8 but hails Paraic Duffy as 'a tremendous leader'

The Slaughtneil star feels that club GAA is the ‘biggest jewel in the GAA’s crown’.

Chrissy McKaigue: 'The best leaders have to make tough choices'.
Chrissy McKaigue: 'The best leaders have to make tough choices'.
Image: INPHO/Sportsfile

CHRISSY MCKAIGUE BUMPED into Paraic Duffy this morning into Croke Park.

McKaigue was present for media duties ahead of Slaughtneil’s club football final battle on St Patrick’s Day, still enthused by having witnessed his club’s camogie side crowned All-Ireland champions yesterday.

When one of the most passionate supporters of the Club Players Association met the Director-General of the GAA, the conversation was always likely to drift towards the recent seismic changes made at Congress.

McKaigue may not be a fan of the Super 8 football structure but he is retaining an open mind and describes Duffy as ‘a tremendous leader’.

The Derry footballer also believes there can be an inclination in the GAA circles to react in a pessimistic fashion to changes.

“I just voiced my opinion, I didn’t think it was the best way of doing it. We have no choice, it is in for three years now. We just have to see what happens.

“One thing I will say about Paraic Duffy is that he is an unbelievably intelligent man. He is a tremendous leader.

“The best leaders have to make tough choices, whether they have to go against the crowd or whatever.

“He has made the choice, he has been backed, it has been voted in, we just have to see.

“Sometimes in the GAA world we can be overly pessimistic anyway. Sometimes you just have to take it with a pinch of salt, to see what happens.

“As a player you have enough to worry about on your own without worrying too much about what happens at an administrative level.”

2017 AIB GAA Senior Club Championship Finals Media Day Chrissy McKaigue at today's All-Ireland senior club finals media event Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

One upshot of Congress in McKaigue’s eyes was the increased attention on the Club Players Association.

He’s been part of a Slaughtneil team, whose dual exploits of late have lit up the GAA landscape, yet feels strongly that club GAA is not afforded the best opportunity to thrive.

“I’m a massive fan of club GAA because I feel it’s the biggest jewel in the GAA’s crown. I don’t think it’s always given the best chance at times.

“The season itself is very long. As professional as the players want to be and are, it’s very difficult balancing work life with sporting life.

“I’m willing to see what happens but the Club Players Association now has got a lot more backing because of the publicity that’s been generated with the new Super 8′s.

“I think we have to be very careful to protect our players, our club association and I think the Club Players (Association) gives us the best chance to do that.”

Declan Brennan CPA secretary and founder Declan Brennan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Measures like bringing in extra-time rather than replays for all games other than provincial and national finals, along with switching the All-Ireland deciders to August, are beneficial.

“Any way they can condense the season to give the club campaign a little bit more leeway is only going to be a good thing.

“It is very difficult for the administrators there at times because they are at the mercy of the inter-county calendar.

“There is never going to be a perfect remedy especially for a dual club either because you are trying to fight on both fronts.

“At least these things open up a discussion and if ultimately they can find the right pathway in time, it can only be a positive.”

For Slaughtneil’s footballers the countdown is on until their date with Dr Crokes on 17 March.

After the club hurlers hit a Cuala roadblock in their semi-final, it was a boost for them to see the camogie outfit deliver All-Ireland glory.

“Being down watching them, seeing what it takes is massive too because what they went through yesterday, physically and mentally was just inspiring.

“They have definitely shown everybody the way in Slaughtneil, they are the first team to win an All Ireland title in our club.

“There wasn’t one person from Slaughtneil who wasn’t there yesterday. That is the way Slaughtneil is, GAA comes first in Slaughtneil, it doesn’t matter what code it is, which is good.

“It is good to see because the girls deserve every bit as much support as our footballers and hurlers.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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