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Doc finds right mix to career

Dual demands of medicine and sport are not overwhelming McCaffrey

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Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey with his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the All-Ireland Football Final award at Spencer Dock, Dublin yesterday Pic: Sportsfile

Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey with his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the All-Ireland Football Final award at Spencer Dock, Dublin yesterday Pic: Sportsfile

Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey with his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the All-Ireland Football Final award at Spencer Dock, Dublin yesterday Pic: Sportsfile

Some of the more interesting statistics produced by Sure, now the GAA's official stats partner, were Jack McCaffrey's numbers for kick-outs.

Not universally recognised as a kick-out target in the traditional sense, McCaffrey gathered 17 restarts in seven championship appearances this summer.

Compared against Brian Fenton's 13 in the same number of matches, it's quite the figure.

And if there was a single, noticeable extra arrow in McCaffrey's quiver this year, it was his willingness to attack opposition's kick-outs.

The official numbers suggest he did so successfully five times against the clearly more aerially-dynamic Fenton's seven.

"It was probably more because opposition teams went after me," McCaffrey reckons.

"And probably thought landing a couple of high balls over me was a way to win easy ball, which was something I was aware of - that they might have thought was an option.

"And I thought I dealt with it pretty well.

"It's been a driver for me for a number of years," McCaffrey adds more generally of the quickly receding perception of him as simply an attacking wing-back rather than a good defender with lightening in his boots.

"I think this year it was probably put to bed a bit more, well I felt it was anyway.

Fascination

"Since I've come on to the inter-county scene it was always something that was a bit of a question mark or a perceived weakness, and it's not something that I particularly went after this year, but over the last number of years slowly improving on it.

"I think it stood to me in 2018."

The other interesting thing about McCaffrey is his job.

It is a source of national fascination that McCaffrey is able to hold down simultaneous roles as a leading member of one of the most successful football teams of all time and that of a fully-qualified, practising doctor.

Hence when the 2015 Footballer of the Year is available for interview, he spends as much time reflecting on his chosen professional path as his sporting one.

"You can't take everything home with you either," he says of some of the potentially distressing experiences unavoidable in his vocation.

"You can't be constantly walking around going, 'Oh, you think this is bad, well I saw this or that'.

"That's no way to go about life either. While it gives perspective it also really makes me appreciate how much joy I get out of football and how much joy it gives people all over Dublin.

"Over the last number of weeks," he notes, "the number of people that I've met and who have come up to me and said, 'You don't understand how happy this has made me'.

"People who have lost family members but got to watch the final with them, just before it happened. And it's a memory they'll keep with them forever.

"That's humbling stuff that kind of drives it home more than anything else."

The recent ESRI report into the affects of inter-county involvement revealed that some players committed as much as 31 hours per week to their county's cause during the summer of 2016.

The number struck McCaffrey as high, although he's not in any position to question its veracity.

"I was actually chatting to my dad about it," he explained.

"He just asked me if that was my experience of things, and to be honest it hasn't really been - 31 hours seemed quite high.

"I'm not doubting that it is the average when you pull all your stats, but it's not how things have worked for me so far thankfully.

"We are very lucky in the management setup we have that they are very conscious that you need to prioritise the outside of football work stuff.

"There's no doubt that as my career progresses along, it will become more demanding like any profession does and there will be certain challenges to come with that.

"I don't lose too much sleep over it at the moment thinking about what might be coming down the line.

"I'll work with the management when that comes around.

"I would never like to fully commit to one thing in my life and be kind of pigeonholed into it," McCaffrey goes on.

"It's not something I would say I would have to give up one for the other, and I hope that remains the case."


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