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dublin pride Jack McCaffrey: I lost the buzz for inter-county football, but who's to say I won't get it back!

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Dublin's Jack McCaffrey celebrates last year's All-Ireland final victory

Dublin's Jack McCaffrey celebrates last year's All-Ireland final victory

SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Jack McCaffrey celebrates last year's All-Ireland final victory

Jack McCaffrey has broken his silence on his bombshell decision to walk away from the Dublin footballers this year.

The 2015 Footballer of the Year revealed that his finest hour - last year’s deadlocked All-Ireland final against Kerry when he scored 1-3 from wing-back - was the game “that broke me”, once he realised he would have to do it all over again in a replay.

A five-time All-Ireland winner and four-time All Star, McCaffrey quit Dessie Farrell’s Dublin panel during the first lockdown.

And in an exclusive interview for The Bernard Brogan Podcast on OTB Sports, the 27-year-old told his ex-Dublin teammate that he would have quit earlier but for the fact that Farrell, his former underage boss, took over this season.

His only appearance this season was as a half-time sub against Tyrone – for a late February league game played in horrific conditions at Healy Park, Omagh – and he failed to finish out the game because of injury.

"Coming back down from that game, I'd hurt my hamstring, got on the bus, rang a friend in New York, booked a flight to New York the following day, left the country, decided to quit football," he revealed.

"That's another thing that I don't want to say that I'm doing because I don't really like this whole 'retired', probably because I'm a bit younger. I don't want to say I'm retiring.

"Gaelic football is a hobby, it's something I love and nobody would be happier than me if I woke up tomorrow and said, 'I've got a bit of a buzz on, I want to play for Dublin again'. It's not there at the moment.

"That's not to say it won't be there again. I'm going to be playing for Clontarf until I'm about 47 years old!"

McCaffrey admitted he had already started to fall out of love with the inter-county game from the summer of 2019.

"I think what broke me was the drawn final," he expanded. "The build-up and everything for the game ... it went quite well on a personal level, obviously we didn't win but we didn't lose, thank God.

"I was walking off the pitch, I thought there was extra-time and David Moran just stuck his hand out to shake mine and I was like, ‘We don't have to do this again, do we?’"

McCaffrey couldn't even bring himself to go to training the following week. Working as a doctor in Temple Street, he was in a clinic that Thursday and decided to work through the evening rather than train with Dublin.

“It was a very specialised clinic and I was surplus to requirements,” he explained. "If I said I had training at seven I would have been told off you go, but I just kept my mouth shut and I stayed there until eight o'clock and I missed training.

"I was like, ‘I can't go there.’ I just turned up and told Jim [Gavin] I got caught late at a clinic and didn't train, then rolled into the next week and, thankfully, everything went well."

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Former Dublin manager Jim Gavin and Jack McCaffrey

Former Dublin manager Jim Gavin and Jack McCaffrey

SPORTSFILE

Former Dublin manager Jim Gavin and Jack McCaffrey

However, despite Dublin completing the fabled five-in-a-row, McCaffrey admits he was “so drained - and then I never really got it back."

When Farrell succeeded Jim Gavin, part of him still wanted to play for his former minor and U21 manager.

"I think if Dessie hadn't got involved, I would have stepped away earlier,” he suggested.

"Dessie has been an incredible influence on my football career since I was 12. Once he took over the job, I thought surely I can give him a year and a good go and wouldn't it be cool to finish what we started all that time ago?

"But something just wasn't right, and it probably wasn't right since halfway through the summer last year when I just felt the fun had gone out of the whole thing and I wasn't looking forward to going to training.

"I had spoken in interviews about the love I had for the group and that was always true, but it kind of suddenly wasn't really anymore because of changes in my life as opposed to anywhere else."

McCaffrey also rubbished recent social media rumours claiming he was poised for a dramatic Dublin return even as his former colleagues close in on six-in-a-row.

He didn’t know where the unfounded speculation had started.

"You might have been the first person to text me (about it)," he told Brogan, "and I got a few – Dermo (Diarmuid Connolly) was onto me and a couple of people whose names I won't mention who have vested interests were on to me.

"Look, there was a lockdown on and people have a lot of spare time. I'd say someone just thought it would be funny.

"There are not many people who have a big curly head like me. So, I find it hard to believe they genuinely thought I was up there. But no, there was no truth in it."

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