Ciarán Kilkenny: Jack McCaffrey always welcome to make Dublin return

Ciarán Kilkenny: Jack McCaffrey always welcome to make Dublin return
Ciarán Kilkenny with Réalta Moran at the Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camp in St Brendan's GAA Club, Dublin. The camp was attended by Siún Brophy, the 1 millionth child to register for the camps since the beginning of the Kellogg's sponsorship in 2012. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Jack McCaffrey would be welcomed back into the Dublin panel with open arms, if he was to reconsider his decision to opt out of the county set-up, Ciarán Kilkenny has said.

McCaffrey stepped away from Dessie Farrell’s panel earlier this summer, with Kilkenny - who has played alongside the 26-year-old since development squad level - remarking that he would love if the 2015 footballer of the year was still involved with Dublin.

“You’d love to have Jack around. He’s a great person, he’s a great character, he’s a great personality, you can feel his energy around the group. He’s a great leader within the group. But you have to respect his decision,” said Kilkenny of the departure of the four-time All-Star.

“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of players to perform now in the club championship, and the great thing about Dessie and his management team is that he has an open-door policy.

“If Jack were to decide... or any players that are performing well, they’re always welcome to come back in if they are performing well. That’s a great thing to have.” 

Of course, there are no guarantees the All-Ireland championship will get off the ground in November such is the pessimistic commentary surrounding a potential second wave of the coronavirus.

“As a player, you just have to be optimistic. You just have to keep training away, play your club games, and just be as optimistic and positive as possible,” said the six-time All-Ireland winner.

“Such uncertain times and to be even going out playing games, playing the games that we love, playing with your friends, we are just lucky to be in that position."

Kilkenny is the Castleknock senior football captain for 2020, the club commencing their Dublin SFC campaign against St Oliver Plunkett’s this Saturday.

This past month of exclusive club activity has been an enjoyable new normal for the Dublin forward.

“It’s really exciting because we’ve had five or six weeks back with our clubs, it’s a great opportunity to bond. I suppose in the past, I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the business end of the season with Dublin and then you are nearly straight into [club] games, whereas now, we have had five or six weeks to really build on those relationships and focus on the things we want to improve on."

Prior to GAA fields reopening, Kilkenny’s lockdown consisted of Netflix documentaries, golf, cycling, and the online daily skills video which drew such engagement from across the country that what was intended to be a one-week project ran for 45 days.

"I only meant to do the week but it just took off from there and every night before I went to bed, I'd be rolling around thinking about what skill to do [the next day].

“My mam and I used to go down to Coolmine train station, we had a wall there and did a skill there every day for nine weeks. My mam video-recorded it and threw her hand at doing a few skills as well, then I would upload it on Twitter and Instagram. Throughout the whole day until 10 or 11pm, I'd be getting engagement from the kids, seeing how they were getting on with their skills and seeing where they can improve.

“And to see their improvement over the nine weeks, even a lot of them sent messages before they went back to the club saying they had improved on their left or their right side. That was really fulfilling for me.”

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