Home is where the heart is and that’s certainly true for Slaughtneil’s Aoife Ní Chaiside. A GAA club that needs no introduction, Aoife captained Slaughtneil’s camogie team to their first and second All-Ireland in 2017 and 2018, and in March of this year, they claimed their third.

Stripping back the layers to get to the root of Slaughtneil’s sensational success story, it quickly becomes obvious that everything is built upon an unconditional love for the place she calls home.

Born and bred in Slaughtneil, a rural townland situated in Co Derry, Aoife’s heritage certified a passion for her local GAA club and the Irish language, as well as granting her a number of farming connections; Aoife’s grandad travelled Ireland as a cattle lorry driver.

Aoife and the Slaughtneil community have experienced many moments of overwhelming happiness but they too suffered a great deal of heartache along the way. Just days before winning their first Ulster title, Aoife’s father Thomas, who was part of the camogie ladies management, passed away.

With Thomas’s memory providing the motivation, Aoife and her teammates (including sisters Eilís and Bróna), continued to do what they did best. And so, when the final whistle blew on 5 March 2017, history was made as Aoife climbed the steps of Croke Park and delivered the All-Ireland winning speech in Irish.

“There is no village of Slaughtneil and the townland is split between two different parishes. Nearly everyone is associated with the club in some way, it’s such a strong thing in the area and people want to be involved.

“Mammy and daddy both played for the club. Mammy played up until she was 30 and was actually pregnant when she was still playing. daddy played and was involved in management. Two of daddy’s uncles, along with others, were founding members of the club.”

Journey to three in a row

“2012 was our first county title and then we had two bad years after that. In 2015 we got new management, Dominic McKinley and daddy.

"The first year they were together, I think we were beaten in the first round but they obviously saw potential. Dominic was there when we won the first Ulster and All-Ireland right up to the third.

“The Derry Championship title 2016 was very special because that was the last game daddy was at and the Ulster final was the first game after he died, the whole community had been heartbroken. It gave us a bit of comfort (winning the Ulster final), for us the family and the whole area too.

“After the All-Ireland semi-final, we just couldn’t believe that we won and we were in an All-Ireland final. Then to win and being captain, it’s fairytale stuff.

“Lifting the cup, I was just thinking of daddy the whole time, it was in the back of everybody’s mind. He would have been so proud to stand in Croke Park and see us playing. Everybody was in it for each other, you couldn’t have asked for better support.

“‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’, – ‘there is no strength without unity’ – was on the jerseys, instead of having a sponsor we had a proverb. It was the perfect way to finish it off (the All-Ireland winning speech).

“The pride that it brought to the community, everyone was in amazement that Slaughtneil were All-Ireland champions. It means so much to us as players and to the older people who played and have been on the committee for so many years, never to have thought that they were going to win an All-Ireland and then it happened. When they say it, you just see their face beaming.”


“I work as a podiatrist and one day a week I work in Gaelcholaiste Dhoire in Dungiven Castle. I’m an Irish speaker and that love was created alongside the passion for camogie, they both went hand in hand. It comes from my parents and An Carn Community Association.

“We’re very proud of our area, not just the sport but because of the Irish language and what we have (naíscoil and bunscoil). Saying the speech in Irish at Croke Park, people might think it was very simple, but it meant so much because of how much we love our language and how proud we are of it, and we appreciate the opportunities that we have been given to develop and speak Irish. Only for that, I wouldn’t have presented Ná cáill Mná Spóirt: Croí is Anam on TG4.”

Ná cáill Mná Spóirt: Croí is Anam

“The producer of the series, Órfhlaith Ní Chearnaigh, is a friend of mine. She approached me with the idea she had for a programme about women in sport. She said, ‘I think you would be good for presenting it’.

I had no experience but you need to challenge yourself, you get too comfortable doing the same thing over again.

“Na cáill Mná Spóirt: Croí is Anam (Women in sport: heart and soul), is the name of the three-part series. I travelled Ireland meeting brilliant athletes and people who are passionate about women’s sport and heard their stories, it was magical.

“When it came to the first viewing I was a nervous wreck because it was just going to be out there but that was the point of making it, to put it out there and let people see it, and the feedback has been really good.”

Ná cáill Mná Spóirt: Croí is Anam aired in April and is available to watch on TG4 and BBC iPlayer.