Friday 28 October 2016

Jack can't wait to be back

Re-energised McCaffrey eager for Dublin recall after summer away

Jack McCaffrey. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Jack McCaffrey. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Jack McCaffrey with the Sam Maguire Cup last September. Pic: Sportsfile

"I've been on a train with no wifi for three days with two Chinese people who don't know what Gaelic football is," says Jack McCaffrey, reflecting on a drastically different summer to his last three.

While Dublin hit the road to Kilkenny in June for a first Championship match outside the capital since 2006, McCaffrey was about to plot a route to Ethiopia with GOAL.

From there, the reigning Footballer of the Year went on to Kenya, down through Malawi and then, finally, to Tanzania.

"It was fantastic. Really, ­really good," he says now, back in Dublin since the week of their All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry and back to his medical studies in UCD.

"There was a mix of things. Going over with GOAL was a real eye-opener in terms of seeing so many different projects in a week.

"It was mental. And it was pretty exhausting. But it was fantastic."

McCaffrey was not, he can confirm, asked to rejoin the Dublin panel, nor had he been expecting to. "It wouldn't be fair at all," he explains.

"And I wouldn't be anywhere near in the shape that you should be or I wouldn't know the tactics that they've worked on all year. It just wasn't an option."

For all that, he looks like he could line out on Sunday without seeming out place.

"I actually probably came back in much better shape than I'd left," he laughs.

"One of the lads I went away with is big into his gym and body building and all that kind of craic.

"We were in a small town called Monze in southern Zambia where there's very little to do. So they actually had a small gym and we were probably going every day."

For the record, he has no regrets.

Initial doubts? Naturally.

But nothing McCaffrey hasn't made peace with.

"Probably when I was making the decision, I thought about it long and hard," he recalls now.

"I probably second-guessed myself over a number of weeks. But no, once I made the decision I was happy with it and I was happy with how the summer panned out as well."


McCaffrey didn't just take a summer out of football, he could ultimately have taken leave of the moment when the team he starred on became immortal.

At 23, time obviously on his side but he will go to Croke Park on Sunday and watch as his recent, but nonetheless former, team-mates try to take a fourth Sam Maguire for Dublin in just six years.

He admits now to considering such an outcome on the way to the Kerry match.

"I was walking in with my brother and I was thinking would I be a bit sickened if I saw Dublin go on and win it," states McCaffrey.

"Then as soon as the ball was thrown in, that all went out the window. It was great.

"It was an unbelievable game to watch. And I'm looking forward to the same thing in the final."

He admits too, to doubting Dublin during that game.

Not through any educated reason, mind, but because of his more fatalistic urges.

"Well I'm a very bad supporter and I have been since I was a kid." McCaffrey explains.

"I was walking in thinking 'Kerry have been preparing for this for x number of weeks' and I thought Kerry would win.

"I'll probably end up ­thinking Mayo will win before the end of the week.

"But once, at the start of the second half, Dublin were just clipping points and there was no mad panic, it was great to see and it was obvious that they were still in control and not panicking and I suppose then you realise that they were going to pick it off."

McCaffrey has, he explains, already sent his best wishes to his former colleagues.


"I would be very good friends with a few of the lads on the team. I've been just chatting with them generally.

"But I know what it's like to be there. They won't want to be talking about football this week.

"So I just wished them luck early on in the week and let them at it then."

Dublin will win or lose tomorrow without Jack McCaffrey but he hopes to insert himself back into that equation next year.

He is not assuming anything, other than the fact that he is ready and willing to take up where he left off if required.

"Yeah, absolutely, I'm loving the club football now and we have Sigerson kicking off soon enough.

"We've the league and that, and if Dublin were to ask me back in I'd absolutely love to give it another lash.

"Re-energised is probably a fair way to describe it. It would be great to go again and watching the lads and enjoying - hopefully - the win in the final, it would really want to make you get back yourself."

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