Boost for Derry hurling as McKaigue and Rogers commit
Derry hurling has received the best possible boost after the revelation that Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue will balance hurling with football at county level.
They face Tyrone this Sunday (Carrickmore, 1pm) in the Ulster Shield final, and open their Nicky Rackard campaign six days later with a visit to Louth.
During Slaughtneil's glorious triumph in the Ulster Senior Hurling Club Championship, McKaigue underlined his small ball credentials as he captained his club to become Derry's first ever Ulster Club champions.
Both men were back for Damian Barton's football team when they lined out in the win over Fermanagh in the final regulation league game of the season, which ultimately proved in vain as the Oak Leafs were relegated to the third tier for 2018.
While he is the launch pad for attacks at full-back in football, Rogers is an effective target man in hurling, while McKaigue mainly plays midfield.
Dual players are by now largely a thing of the past, but as one who had a lengthy playing career in both codes - winning a football All-Ireland as a panel member in 1993 - Derry manager Collie McGurk will have been able to spell out his own experiences in tempting McKaigue and Rogers to split their commitment.
Of the unexpected fillip for the hurlers, McGurk said: "There has been a trend in Derry that the hurlers are the poor relations and that the hurling manager should go and ask permission for footballers to play.
"I don't feel that should be the case. I think that if fellas want to play and are on top of their game in hurling in the province, then there is no reason why they shouldn't be playing."
Slaughtneil will have 13 on the panel. Derry will also have the services of two All-Ireland club winners, the Waldron brothers of Cuala. Cian and Naoise Waldron's grandfather was reportedly a founder member of the Loup.