Derry's Rogers happy to accept rare dual mandate
The lid has been on the coffin of the dual inter-county player for some time now but a much more compressed county schedule should have finally closed it this year.
A chink of light still exists however in Derry where, following their dual exploits throughout the winter and early spring with Slaughtneil, Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue have signed up to another double mission in the coming weeks.
Where it takes them depends very much on results. Rogers, speaking at yesterday's Croke Park launch of the new Joe McDonagh, Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups, made it clear that football will be prioritised in the event of any clash.
But for now, he intends playing two of Derry's three scheduled Christy Ring Cup games before taking stock of where they are after that.
The Derry footballers are out against the winners of Cavan and Donegal in an Ulster quarter-final on May 27. Before that, the Derry hurlers have Ring Cup games against London (May 12) and Armagh (May 19).
Rogers will, more than likely, skip the Armagh game but return for the final group game against Down on June 2.
"The football is the priority because that was, more or less, what we committed to first hand. But now that the hurling can be accommodated it seems to be well enough managed," explained the Slaughtneil man.
Christy Ring Cup hurling is now two levels down from Liam MacCarthy Cup level where a dual mandate would be far harder to establish but the commitment of the Derry pair is commendable nonetheless.
Training, for the most part, will be with the footballers but on certain Wednesdays and Saturdays, they will seek to meet up with their hurling colleagues.
"They rely on us picking up a hurl at home, 10 or 15 minutes here and there across the day should help us along and then a few sessions that we have with the team are enough for boys to get used to us," he said.
"There are a lot of boys from our club there so knowing the players is not really an issue. We've been in and out of the Derry panel this last couple of years, we all seem to know each other well anyway."
"It's not something that everybody can manage," he accepted.
"Maybe it helps that we have done so much of it in the club scene that we know our own body has had enough to say, 'I can't train tonight'. We know not to flog ourselves and basically ruin our chances of being a dual player.
"That all plays a factor too with more managements being aware that they're handling dual players. It's something you have to do when you know you can. And why not, I'm young enough yet."
Rogers only appeared fleetingly at the end of an ill-fated Division 3 campaign for the footballers, picking up a hamstring injury on his return. The drop to Division 4 has triggered some despair but he feels a more positive vibe ahead of the championship.
"There is a bit of a pride hit in Derry. Maybe there was an element of Slaughtneil players not being there and people not being overly happy about it.
"You can see why there is that aura of despair because the supporters haven't had much success to celebrate. It's slowly but surely getting a bit more of a positive vibe about it."