It’s exactly a month until Dublin’s O’Byrne Cup opener at home to DCU though, as of now, Jack McCaffrey is not a member of the All-Ireland champions’ panel.
Whether that’s significant or not remains to be seen and the 2015 Footballer of the Year himself didn’t appear overly concerned at yesterday’s draws for the third level championships at Croke Park.
Dublin aren’t permitted to resume collective training until December 29 anyhow and the All-Ireland final replay pushed everything back slightly, though fans might have expected McCaffrey to have been contacted by now.
The UCD medicine student withdrew from the Dublin panel earlier this year and travelled to Ethiopia with the GOAL charity while he also spent time in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania and worked in a hospital in Zambia.
McCaffrey returned from his 11 weeks away late in this year’s Championship and wasn’t recalled to the panel, stating at the time that in terms of 2017, “if Dublin were to ask me back in I’d absolutely love to give it another lash”.
That invitation to join Dublin’s quest for a three-in-a-row of All-Ireland wins hasn’t been extended yet though.
“No, I’ve been playing away with the club,” he said, when asked about a call from Jim Gavin. “And, as you said, I think the lads are going on their holiday later than they usually would. No, I’m just doing my own thing with UCD now.
“I’m going to be in Dublin playing football, for somebody this summer, so I’d love to get back in.”
What’s definite is that the speedy wing-back has no regrets about leaving the Dublin panel when he did, despite missing out on their successful title defence.
“I really enjoyed it anyway, I’m glad I did it,” he said.
McCaffrey is optimistic that a lack of fitness after a season out won’t hamper him if he does return to the Sky Blues setup.
“I hope not, I’m playing away, obviously we are here at the Sigerson launch and you are playing away there with pretty much all the same lads. Everyone tends to be off the pace at the start of the year but, no, I hope not.
“I’m doing my own stuff but I haven’t got any programme as such. I haven’t (spoken to Jim Gavin) and I’m not sure what the procedure is. Obviously, this year is different with everything shifted two weeks because of the replay.”
McCaffrey said he wasn’t surprised by Cormac Costello’s heroic three-point haul which helped see off Mayo.
“No, no, because he’s unreal, he’s been flying for a while, by all accounts. It was great. I was delighted to see himself and Fitzy (Michael Fitzsimons) as well who maybe hadn’t got as much game time in the lead-up to the final and they both obviously had a massive say in the end.”
McCaffrey shrugged at the suggestion that Dublin’s panel depth, which has allowed them to keep the likes of Costello in reserve, is the reason they have gone 29 games unbeaten in the league and Championship.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I know it’s obviously a massively impressive statistic, you nearly start thinking they must have won every game by 25 points, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s good going alright. I suppose it’s just a good team.”
Meanwhile, Damien Comer believes Sean Armstrong can enjoy a successful second coming with Galway’s footballers. Former underage star Armstrong, 31, retired from county football two years ago citing a lack of interest but has regained top form with county finalists Salthill-Knocknacarra.
“With his mentality, I don’t think it will be a problem coming back,” said Tribesmen attacker Comer. “He knows the ins and outs of the county set-up. It will be getting used to Kevin Walsh and his systems and tactics, that’s going to be the biggest change.
“With Johnny (Duane) coming back from the States and the positive winning mentality of the Corofin boys when they rejoin the squad, the panel will be going well.”
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