Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard: Playing Gaelic football helps get my 'head showered'

Sinn Fein's northern chairman Chris Hazzard said playing for the senior team at Drumaness GAC helps him get his 'head showered' from political life. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
Marie Louise McConville

THE northern chair of Sinn Féin has told how playing Gaelic football for a small rural club in Co Down helps him get his "head showered" from political life.

Chris Hazzard, who is MP for South Down, has played for Drumaness GAC for the last 25 years.

Having begun his career with the club as a young boy, the 35-year-old goalkeeper has maintained his connections despite becoming a Sinn Fein MLA, Minister for Infrastructure and MP.

This week, he and fellow members of the senior panel were left disappointed when they got knocked out of the Down Intermediate Football Championship by Drumgath, losing by 1-20 to 0-5.

But Mr Hazzard, who was on the bench for the game, said are they are hopeful for the future.

"We were disappointed to lose and go out of the championship," he said.

Chris Hazzard with his Drumaness clubmates during their Down Intermediate Championship tie against Drumgath. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

"We have a very young side, we are a small, rural club and we've been very unlucky this year with injuries, some of our key players. This year we are a club in transition.

"We've had a number of good performances in the league. It's disappointing to exit at this stage.

"Our minds are now turned to focusing on the league for next year. We want to make sure we get the points we need and end the year on a high."

The father-of-one, who entered senior politics in 2012 as an assembly member for South Down, said he manages to find a balance between work and his personal life.

"It was more difficult whenever I was a minister," he said.

"I had to take a back seat from football for a couple of years. I wasn't able to do it. I have a four-year-old daughter so it was also very difficult.

"In the last year, I have moved closer to the club and that has made it easier and again, I just decided I was coming 35, a couple of people said you will never get this back, you should play as long as you can.

"I decided yeah, and gave it a bit of attention. It's been really enjoyable. We train a couple of nights a week and we have matches as well. It's been good to get my head showered.

"We had a match last night, the guys are back training tomorrow night - I'm not available. I have my gym gear in London. I will go for a run tonight or the gym once we are finished here (in Westminster). Sometimes, I go for a run in the mornings before I come in here."

The South Down MP added: "When you are training, it's engaging with the lads in the club. When you are down training in the mud, you are not the MP for that hour-and-a-half. It's fantastic for me. It's great just to reconnect again."

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