Saturday 3 December 2016

Jack McCaffrey WON'T be back seeking autumn glory with Dublin

Dermot Crowe

Published 10/07/2016 | 02:30

Jack McCaffrey: ‘People forget how close it’s been in the last couple of years.’ Photo: David Conachy
Jack McCaffrey: ‘People forget how close it’s been in the last couple of years.’ Photo: David Conachy

Reigning Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey has ruled out returning to the Dublin panel this season, after he flies home from Africa on August 18. McCaffrey, 22, caused a shock when opting off the panel in the spring, taking a break from inter-county football, having played in some of Dublin's earlier league games.

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He left Ireland on June 5 on a flight from Dublin to Addis Ababa, representing GOAL as an ambassador in Ethiopia, before flying on to other parts of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. He is currently working in a hospital in Monze outside Lusaka.

Asked if there was a remote chance he might return were Dublin still in the championship, McCaffrey replied: "No, I can't see myself involved at all this year."

Dublin have cruised into the Leinster final and successfully defended their National League title in McCaffrey's absence, and the absence of their full-back Rory O'Carroll, who is in New Zealand for the year and possibly longer.

In a series of interviews conducted by the Sunday Independent, who travelled with McCaffrey throughout his tour of GOAL projects in early June, the two-time All-Ireland senior medal winner said he was not feeling burnt out. But he had an unquenchable desire to travel and felt it was the right time.

"I've loved every second of playing football since I was four," he said. "And you know that hasn't changed since I became an inter-county footballer. If anything it has become more enjoyable. Look, I'm sure there are some players in some inter-county set-ups who aren't enjoying it as much. But I can only speak from my experience and it's been a great time."

Asked about Dublin's domination of the football championship he said it was being over-emphasised. "I don't read too much into it to be honest. I am pretty sure that there are people who say they would love Dublin to be beaten, and beaten regularly. You look at lads like Pat Spillane, eight All-Irelands, there's the famous five who have that. I am not sure if that feat can ever be replicated in the modern game.

"Look you have to take it year by year. Please God there will be the same success coming up from a Dublin point of view, from a selfish point of view. I want Dublin to win all the time. But last year's All-Ireland final was won by two points. Mayo drew with us in the semi-final. It's not as if there's some monstrosity of a team that are just winning games at ease from the start of the championship to the end. People seem to forget how close a shave there's been in the last couple of years and get carried away a little bit."

McCaffrey has completed four years of his medicine studies in UCD and won a Sigerson Cup medal with the college this year. He was first introduced to the Dublin senior panel by Pat Gilroy in 2012, but didn't make the team until the following year, by which stage Jim Gavin was in charge.

Gavin was manager when McCaffrey won an All-Ireland under 21 medal in 2012, making up for the disappointment of losing the All-Ireland minor final a year previously.

He spoke of Gavin being methodical. "At under 21, before the game, you would be told the exact time the national anthem would be played and that at this exact time you will parade around and, you know, there will be a two-minute break. It was the first time I was exposed to it. Just the attention to detail in preparing for games.

"He has done so much for me, bringing me in, in 2013 at 19, a lot of managers might not have. He probably spends more time with the forwards in terms of his coaching than with the backs but the entire team under him works very well and it's certainly an enjoyable set-up."

Read the full the interview with Jack McCaffrey in today's Sunday Independent and online from 5pm.

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