DOMINIC Corrigan says he was “privileged” and “blessed” to have worked alongside Fergal McCann during his third and final year as Killyclogher boss in 2018 – and it’s is his fervant desire that young coaches should seek to emulate the understated way McCann conducted himself in life.
McCann, who passed away last week after a battle with illness, trained the Tyrone senior intercounty team to All-Ireland titles in 2005 and 2008, but he shunned the spotlight and the often fickle world of social media.
Corrigan has no time whatsoever for self-publicising coaches and trainers, and he hails McCann as an exemplar of how things should be done: unstinting loyalty, understated modesty and, above all else, prioritising the needs of the players.
Drawing a comparison with All-Blacks legend Richie McCaw, Corrigan pays tribute to the quiet man from Augher who played such a pivotal role in rejuvenating Killyclogher’s fortunes after a lacklustre 2017 season.
“I don’t want Fergal’s life to be in vain, I want his legacy to live on. I want young coaches to look at the way Fergal did it.
“Look at Richie McCaw, the great All-Black. I remember him saying he’d no interest in social media, he wasn’t going to tweet anything, and he didn’t need to tell people about the player he was – that they could find out for themselves.
“Fergal McCann was exactly the same. He never at any stage mentioned to me that he’d won two All-Irelands with Tyrone. Fergal was the type of man who did his work quietly on the field, he wasn’t going to be tweeting or going on social media platforms.
“That told me everything I needed to know about Fergal. He was so humble and all the players saw very clearly from an early stage that he was all about doing what he could for them.
“I feel like it’s a great example for all young coaches today. I feel there’s far too much self-promotion on social media. For me as a manager it was an absolute thrill, and the players knew they were working for a man who was so genuine in wanting to improve them as footballers.
“I often slagged him in the car going to matches, ‘you’re at the top of your game and not many know that’, and he said ‘that’s the way I like it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.’
“It wasn’t a case of having however many followers on social media – egos tend to factor into things in every aspect of a football team but Fergal was as humble as they come, and the tremendous flood of tributes that came in last week from All-Ireland winners like Philly Jordan, Sean Cavanagh and Conor Gormley didn’t surprise me in the slightest.”
See today’s Ulster Herald for the full interview with Dominic Corrigan