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Chrissy McKaigue: 'You feel a sense of camaraderie when you look around and see the goodness in everyone'

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Chrissy McKaigue

Chrissy McKaigue

Chrissy McKaigue

Chrissy McKaigue

Kevin Scott / Presseye

Rory Best

Rory Best

Chrissy McKaigue

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Chrissy McKaigue who has won a host of honours while playing football and hurling for Slaughtneil and Derry over the past 10 years.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I'm doing fine, although like a lot of other people I have had to re-adjust my lifestyle. Obviously movement is restricted because of the very necessary social isolation but this is a small price to pay if it means that the spread of the coronavirus can be restricted.

Q: How has your daily routine been affected?

A: I am a teacher in St Mary's High School, Limavady and with the school closed I am fulfilling my teaching duties online. In common with the vast majority of people, I have been coming to terms with an upheaval in my life but I am also getting the chance to attend to other matters which might not otherwise have been on my radar.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: The fact that facilities such as GAA grounds, leisure centres and parks are closed makes it that bit more difficult to undertake training at the level you would like but I still manage to keep in shape by running and exercising beside my home. It's all new territory for everyone I suppose but you could say we are getting used to it by now.

Q: How are you managing to sustain morale?

A: No one knows when things will return to what we would regard as normal but while sport is a big part of my life, I think we have to keep a sense of perspective. We're in uncharted territory and you just have to accept the way things are and take the positives by trying to keep healthy in mind and body.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from right now?

A: I feel I am very fortunate to be part of the overall GAA community and I take great heart from the work that is being done up and down the country by clubs in terms of helping old and vulnerable people. I also derive great comfort from keeping in touch with my Slaughtneil clubmates. And you do feel a sense of camaraderie when you look around you and see the goodness in people and not just GAA people - you could not help but be inspired by this.

Q: Sports fans are staying at home, too. Can you recommend a book, film or box set they might enjoy?

A: Rory Best, the former Ireland rugby captain's autobiography made a huge impact on me and I would thoroughly recommend it - it is a great read, sincere, thought-provoking and inspiring. I thought it gave a tremendous insight into the highs and lows of sport - a lot of what he was writing about resonated with me, I can assure you of that.

I would not be a film buff at all but I believe that the Game of Thrones box set is very impressive and provides superb entertainment.

Q:  What life lessons are you learning from the crisis?

A: I have discovered that patience is definitely a virtue. I have found that having a little more time in which to do things has taught me to be more tolerable and understanding.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: The first thing I will do will be to offer a silent prayer that I will never again take for granted the freedom I have to do what I want within the framework of my responsibilities. I have been fortunate to enjoy a very fulfilling lifestyle, both professionally and sporting, to date but I have become more aware that this is a privilege and not a right.

Q: What would be your message to fans of Slaughtneil and Derry?

A: My message to all of our fans would be to keep very positive. Slaughtneil will hopefully get the chance to win further county Championship titles in both football and hurling, while Derry face into a very tough mission in the Ulster Football Championship.

I would urge all of our followers to get behind the teams and thereby help to further enhance the sense of belonging that we all enjoy.

Belfast Telegraph