Tommy helped to make me what I am today: McKaigue
Derry skipper Chrissy McKaigue will lead his side into the Ulster senior football championship cushioned by warm memories of Tommy Campbell, his former teacher in St Mary's HS, Limavady who died recently.
McKaigue, who is regarded as a one of the GAA's outstanding playing ambassadors, believes he owes the late Tommy, father of Cushendall and Antrim hurler Eoghan Campbell, a great deal.
He may have led Derry to promotion in the recent Allianz League and currently finds himself in the limelight as Damian McErlain's side step up their preparations for the preliminary round Ulster Championship tie against Tyrone but McKaigue still takes time out to reflect on a person whom he felt made a great impact on his life.
"I honestly think that Tommy Campbell was one of the most caring, intelligent and articulate people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting," reflects McKaigue.
"I will never forget all he done for me in my years with him in Limavady. He was just a great Cushendall, Antrim and Ulster gael. He will be sorely missed by everyone."
McKaigue, whose brother Karl also plays for Derry, believes that Tommy played a big part in helping to fashion his career both on and off the field of play.
"I think he helped in making me the person that I am. I will never forget what he did for me," says McKaigue, who has followed in his mentor's footsteps and is now himself on the teaching staff at St Mary's.
In his role there, he is helping students to hone their skills and his influence is helping to boost the school's sporting image.
And as he focuses on Derry's forthcoming mission at Healy Park, McKaigue believes there are others who have come under Tommy's influence and are all the better for it.
"He was that kind of person, he made a tremendous impact on people," adds McKaigue.
Tommy's son Eoghan shared in Cushendall's Antrim and Ulster hurling championship triumphs last year despite a hand injury and went on to play in the team's All-Ireland club championship semi-final defeat to St Thomas' (Galway).