A. I’ve a very strong belief in doing the right thing. I try to get to Mass every Sunday.
Q. Have you ever lost anyone else close to you?
A. One of my best friends Mo (Maurice) Fearon passed away in Newry Hospice four months short of his 41st birthday on March 16, 2013. He had bowel cancer. We’d known each other since school. He was a great guy, very popular. I never believed he would die. I still miss him intensely.
I also lost my uncle Patsy (“the farmer who lived across the road with his wife Roisin – they had no kids so we were the farm children”), my auntie Marie and my grandfather Patrick Crilly, who was the only grandparent I knew.
Q. Does death frighten you?
A. It frightens me for my loved ones – I wouldn’t be too worried about myself.
Q. You’re a former All-Ireland winner with Armagh and you’re still quietly involved in football management. How do you relax outside politics?
A. Gym and going for walks in the countryside with my wife.
Q. Your dad Joe (71) and mum Mary (Crilly, 70), were both English teachers, and you’re one of six children, including a non-identical twin brother Paul. Tell us about your siblings.
A. Paul works in fund management and lives in Monaco. Sarah (44) is an architect, Enda (40) works in performance consultancy and Emer (38) is a primary school teacher. She created a real problem in the family because she got married to a Justin. Patrick is 28 and he’s in fund management in Dublin.
Q. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up?
A. My dad – my earliest memories were of watching him coaching football teams. He played for Armagh himself and also coached them. I remember being in the dressing room at Croke Park after a match when Armagh had been beaten in a league final. A priest who was the manager at the time came into the dressing room after the match and he cursed and blinded like crazy to the players. I was really shocked because priests weren’t supposed to say bad words.
Q. If you were in trouble, who is the one person you would you turn to?
A. My wife.
Q. Who is your best Protestant friend?
A. I have friends; I don’t know what religion they are.
Q. You went to St Malachy’s Primary in Camlough, where you were first introduced to gaelic football, and The Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar in Newry, followed by Queen’s University and then Dublin City University. How long were your studies?
A. My primary degree in civil engineering should have been four years but it took me six because my focus wasn’t very academic during those years; it was purely on football. I then spent two years at DCU doing a general MBA.
Q. You’re a qualified civil engineer. Briefly tell us about your career to date.
A. I started off in Roads Service consultancy in 2000-01 before moving to Dublin where I worked as a civil engineer project manager in a few companies – including RC Design Services – for six or seven years. Then the recession hit and all of a sudden construction stopped. So no jobs, and no hope of jobs. I was on the dole for about six months. Then, my brother Enda offered me a job as a performance consultant in his company and I did that for four or five years. I’d retired from gaelic football in 2005/06, was managing teams during that period and also did my MBA. After that I joined First Derivatives working in financial consultancy in Ulster Bank in Dublin from 2014 until 2015.