Dublin’s star footballer Jack McCaffrey is to sit out the inter-county championship later this year.
The Clontarf man, a doctor based in St Luke’s in Kilkenny, has opted out of Dessie Farrell’s panel for the delayed resumption of the season. The reigning All-Ireland champions return in October when they face Meath and Galway in the league before their Leinster SFC quarter-final against Westmeath in November.
The 26-year-old, who claimed his fifth All-Ireland medal and fourth All-Star last year, previously withdrew from the panel in 2016 when he combined some travelling with work in Ethiopia as part of his medical studies. He was voted Young Footballer of the Year in 2013, overall Footballer of the Year two years later before being shortlisted for that award again in 2018 and ‘19.
McCaffrey made one appearance for Dublin this year in the Allianz Division 1 league defeat to Tyrone in Omagh in late February. He came on as a half-time substitution but was replaced before the end having reported an injury to the sideline. Manager Farrell later said the injury was only slight.
Last year’s All-Ireland final referee David Gough will also sit out this year’s championships, as long as social distancing is required to counter the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the Meathman had said he wouldn’t returning to football under the government recommendations to maintain 2m social distance and he reiterated that position this weekend, telling the Irish Independent he won’t be taking charge of club or county games for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Pat Spillane feels the GAA should consider removing the possibility of penalties from deciding Championship games later this year and introduce a golden score.
Because of time constraints, all Championship games including the All-Ireland finals must be decided on the day, which will see teams each take five penalties if they can’t be separated after extra-time.
Both Spillane and Ciaran Whelan are opposed to the idea, and the Kerry legend told The Sunday Game: “A fella misses a penalty, an individual has just cost his county the All-Ireland title. I think the fairer system is, yes extra-time, but then golden score, first team to score wins. Collective responsibility in victory, collective responsibility in defeat. To lose an All-Ireland final with a missed penalty? I wouldn’t like to be that player heading back to the county."
Former Dublin midfielder Whelan, who suggested two five-minute periods of extra-time should follow the two 10-minute periods if the sides are still level, said: “The game has to finish on the day and no doubt we are going to see it (penalties). Do I like it? No. But unfortunately it’s the timeframe we’re in.
“From a player’s perspective, to lose an All-Ireland final on penalties would be very hard to take. I get it, I understand it but I think for the final there would be justification for a replay.”