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Slaughtneil's Chrissy McKaigue award boost as International Test looms

By John Campbell

There is a pleasant surprise awaiting Chrissy McKaigue on his return from Saturday's International Rules Test in Australia. The Slaughtneil defensive anchor is the latest winner of the Ulster GAA Writers monthly merit award following his prodigious feats for his club.

The lithe McKaigue was in senior championship action on every Sunday last month, mixing hurling and football with ease in both county and provincial action.

In the process he collected a Derry senior football championship medal when Slaughtneil defeated Ballinderry in the county final, having already earned a hurling award the previous month as his side defeated Kevin Lynch's Dungiven in the decider.

While provincial success eluded the hurlers when they were beaten by Cushendall in the Ulster club semi-final replay, there could be compensation in the offing in Sunday week's Ulster club football final against Omagh St Enda's.

This is Slaughtneil's biggest match in their history and McKaigue is fired up for the challenge despite the fact that he has been in almost constant action of late.

But his immediate priority is to see Ireland clinch victory over Australia at Patterson's Stadium, Perth on Saturday in the one-Test confrontation.

"Australia are much stronger this year and they are at home so we will have our work cut out," maintains McKaigue. "We have to hit the ground running if we are to come out on top."

McKaigue, who edged out Clontibret star forward Conor McManus and Dromore ladies football score-getter Emma Smyth for the Writers' award, may have missed out on his presentation this month but he will be invited to join the November winner for a double celebration at Quinn's Corner, Ballygawley next month.

He will then get his award of an inscribed Belleek Living Vase, specially designed silver cuff links by Garrett Mallon of Carlingford Design House, training gear from O'Neill's Sports Strabane and a sports voucher from the UGAAWA.

Kerry's Declan O'Sullivan has announced his retirement from inter-county football aged 30.

The Dromid Pearses man calls it a day having won every honour available during an inter-county career that stretches back to 2003.

O'Sullivan has the distinction of being one of only eight players to lift the Sam Maguire more than once as captain, in 2006 and 2007, following in the footsteps of fellow Kerrymen such as Dick Fitzgerald, John Joe Sheehy and Joe Barrett.

In all he made 70 championship appearances for the Kingdom and won three consecutive GAA All Stars between 2007 and 2009.

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