Thursday 13 December 2018

Players pay tribute to popular McCaffrey

Aiden McGeady wheels away after scoring the winner in Sunderland’s 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the Championship Photo: Getty
Aiden McGeady wheels away after scoring the winner in Sunderland’s 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the Championship Photo: Getty

Warm tributes have been paid to former Ireland U-17 and U-19 manager Seán McCaffrey who passed away over the weekend aged just 58.

After lengthy service to the game in his native Monaghan and in the wider North East region, the FAI development officer stepped up the coaching ladder after Brian Kerr left the underage department to become senior team boss in January 2003.

His stint lasted for seven years before the FAI's new high performance director Wim Koevermans made a change with his departure becoming the subject of an unfair dismissal action that was later settled.

In 2008, McCaffrey led an Irish U-17 side for the European Championships in Turkey with future senior internationals Robbie Brady, Greg Cunningham and Conor Hourihane part of a squad that also included the likes of Richie Towell, Conor Clifford, Gearóid Morrissey and Johnny Dunleavy.

McCaffrey was on crutches on the sideline with the impact of diabetes resulting in the lower part of a leg being amputated. His recent health problems stemmed from kidney trouble and his diabetes condition. He leaves a significant legacy behind with current players based both home and abroad speaking about his role in their development.

Dunleavy, who is now captain of Cork City, lauded an "absolute gentleman and brilliant manager who had a huge influence on my own development and that of many others."

Monaghan man Aaron McCarey, a goalkeeper who is now in Scotland with Ross County, hailed "one of the best coaches I've ever had the pleasure to work with", while Brentford and Ireland centre-half John Egan praised a "good character" who was a big help.

Ex-Celtic and Ireland defender Darren O'Dea, who is now with Dundee, recalled an old McCaffrey saying. "His favourite phrase was, 'Every day you either add to or take away from your reputation'. Always stuck with me."

The depth of the reaction was evidence of McCaffrey's popularity. He was a highly regarded mentor to youngsters in his formative coaching days at Monaghan United - even those who went on to shine in different disciplines and walks of life.

McCaffrey was also Dundalk's last manager before Stephen Kenny, but that difficult seven-month stint ended midway throughout the 2012 season with the Lilywhites struggling and finances tight.

Grateful

His eye for talent did bring Chris Shields and John Mountney to the club, a duo who subsequently shone under Kenny and remain at Oriel Park to this day. They are just two players on a long list of individuals with reason to be grateful for his support.

McCaffrey is survived by his wife Irean, mother Veronica, sister Fiona, brothers Gerard, Terry, Conor, Brendan and Kieran and extended family and friends. His funeral takes place in St Macartan's Cathedral, Monaghan tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, tributes were also paid to Shamrock Rovers legend Jackie Mooney who passed away last night. Twice capped by the Republic of Ireland, Mooney won the League and FAI Cup double in 1964 with the Hoops, while the club lifted the League Shield, Leinster Senior Cup and Dublin City Cup that same year.

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