Footballer of the Year nominee Jack McCaffrey admits his experience of the inter-county game doesn’t tally with the headline finding of a recent ESRI study.
The report concluded that top inter-county players devote as much as 31 hours per week to the game, compromising other parts of their lives in the process.
But the Dublin defender, a four-time All-Ireland winner and the 2015 Footballer of the Year, said he was surprised by the findings and discussed them with his dad, Noel, a former All-Star.
“When that report came out I heard it on the news and I was actually chatting to my dad about it,” said McCaffrey, the GAA/GPA Player of the All-Ireland final. “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 together but it’s [different to] how things have worked for me so far thankfully.
The wing-back is a graduate of medicine at UCD and works in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
“From the career perspective, we are very lucky in that the Dublin management are very tuned in to what your priorities are and they are very conscious that you need to prioritise the outside of football work stuff,” he said.
“The work/life balance is something that Jim Gavin is very conscious of. There’s no doubt that as my [medical] career progresses, it will become more demanding like any profession does and there will be certain challenges to come with that.
But 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.
The ESRI report found that players, particularly those over 30, compromised on their personal relationships and downtime to ring-fence time for county commitments.
On a pitch-based training day, this equated to six hours in total given over to the inter-county game though McCaffrey said he doesn’t feel that his life is dictated by football.
“I would never like to fully commit to one thing in my life, if that makes sense, and be pigeonholed into it,” said the Clontarf man.
“From a medicine point of view, you need something out of that to keep you sane and from a football point of view the same goes. You need something that you can pour yourself into to take the attention off that, so it’s not something I would say I have to give up one for the other and I hope that remains the case.”