Oak Leafs can win even more: McKaigue
CHRISSY McKaigue did not quite bargain for landing three honours in a season in which Derry failed to hit the high spots in a championship context.
Yet Slaughtneil clubman McKaigue still managed to garner his own kudos by collecting an inter-provincial championship medal with Ulster, shared in Derry's promotion to Division One of the Allianz League and then captained his county to their O'Fiaich Cup triumph last Sunday.
While the accomplished 24-year-old defender welcomes his triple bonus, he is keen to see Derry make a major impact in the Ulster and All Ireland championships in 2014.
"We know if we can get our best 15 players on the field we will be a match for any team," insists McKaigue.
"If we can get our structures and game plan right, then hopefully we will get a little success.
"We have some very big games coming up in the league at Owenbeg and Celtic Park and if we can get points from these fixtures it will surely give us renewed heart going into the Ulster Championship in which we will have home advantage against Donegal in the first round."
McKaigue is regarded as one of the top defenders in the country – Ulster manager Joe Kernan reckons he is a class apart – yet he has attained his present status more by accident than by design.
"I never had any aspirations of becoming a full-back but I fell into the position after Kevin McCloy retired," he explained. "This is my third year in the role so you could say I am getting used to it, but you find yourself having to mark some of the best forwards in the country and that is not always easy. I am happy to be in the Derry side, though.
"We have a lot of young players coming through and naturally they are very keen to become regulars in the side.
"Bridging the gap between club football and county football is not always easy but these lads will have to learn quickly. They are certainly very enthusiastic and appear to have the right attitude."