Derry must hit the ground running: McKaigue
His focus may understandably be on Slaughtneil's forthcoming All-Ireland Club semi-finals in both football and hurling but Chrissy McKaigue will be very much with Derry in spirit when they begin their Allianz Football League campaign on Sunday.
Oak Leaf boss Damian Barton would undoubtedly like to have the imposing McKaigue in the central spine of his defence but is resigned to being without his Slaughtneil representatives until their quest for national honours has been terminated.
For his part, McKaigue admits he is "desperately keen" to see Derry collect maximum points from their opening two games against Clare and Meath as a precursor to a possible promotion drive from Division Two when the league resumes at the end of the month after the traditional two-week break.
"Obviously Derry's initial goal will be to retain their place in Division Two but I would like to see the side involved in the promotion mix," stated McKaigue. "The first two games are always vital. In saying that, last year Derry won their first two games and did not go too well after that but generally speaking winning the first two games before the break can be paramount to success.
"I am desperately keen to see the team get four points in the bag before the league break."
Derry floundered yet again against great rivals Tyrone in last weekend's McKenna Cup final, a match which has provided manager Barton with much food for thought.
McKaigue added: "The McKenna Cup has given a good insight into the talent that Damian has but the league is what it is. Obviously his big aim will be to get his best team available for the Ulster and All-Ireland Championships."