Thursday 26 April 2018

Derry and Slaughtneil star Chrissy McKaigue shares moving letter he received that proves just how special the GAA is

The late Pat Shovelin (inset) picked Chrissy McKaigue in a rest of Ireland team
The late Pat Shovelin (inset) picked Chrissy McKaigue in a rest of Ireland team
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Derry defender Chrissy McKaigue has shared an incredibly moving letter he received from a close friend of late Donegal goalkeeping coach Pat Shovelin.

The teak-tough Slaughtneil man is busy preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Cork's Nemo Rangers this weekend but received a correspondence that caused him to put his sporting endeavours into perspective.

Shovelin was part of the back-room team under Jim McGuinness when the county marched all the way to the Sam Maguire in 2012 and was a coach with Declan Bonner's U-21 side this year, when they made the All-Ireland semi-finals before losing to Dublin.

He died last October aged just 41 after a year-long battle with a rare form of liver cancer.

He was a hugely popular figure in Donegal GAA and a close friend of former Republic of Ireland netminder Shay Given.

The letter reveals that after Pat had been told that there was nothing more the medics could do for him and that he and his friend decided to organise a charity match between the Donegal 2012 All-Ireland winning team and a rest of Ireland selection.

Shovelin chose McKaigue in the half-back line for the rest of Ireland XV.

The letter said: "I write to inform you, that you made the team.

"I know it's not a county final medal, a provincial medal or a Celtic cross. I know it's not an All Star or a team of the century award.

"However, I can assure you that such was the esteem, respect and absolute love the people of Donegal had for Pat Shovelin, that your place on the team, for me and many more, is amongst the highest of accolades.

"Perhaps, at some time of your life, on or off the field, when things are not going to plan and you need a pick up, that you can draw inspiration and confidence from his letter and realise that a great man, a man you never met, thought you were the best in your position to face his beloved Donegal."

It's clear from McKaigue's tweet that he would be honoured to play in a game to honour the memory of Pat Shovelin.

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