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On the double! Two All-Ireland medals in one week for the McCaffreys of Clontarf

Sarah McCaffrey starred yesterday as her brother Jack enjoyed the celebrations in the stands.

Family business: Sarah and Jack McCaffrey.
Family business: Sarah and Jack McCaffrey.

Updated at 08.30

AS SARAH MCCAFFREY palmed the ball into the Hill 16 goal to put the cherry on top of Dublin’s emphatic All-Ireland win yesterday, the cameras turned to her brother.

And there were similar scenes to his fist-pumping celebrations on The Sunday Game last week.

It’s fair to say that 2015 Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey was one of the happiest men in Croke Park as Dublin were finally having their day in the sun after three back-to-back final defeats.

As she turned back towards the field, fists clenched but determined to get back to her marker for the kick out, McCaffrey gave a cheeky smile — her second goal from the bench coming as the last blow.

Did she spot her brother on the screen though?

“I actually saw it out of the corner of my eye, I was like ‘Don’t look up there!’” she laughs afterwards.

Of course, it’s an All-Ireland double for the two Dublin football teams after the men edged Mayo in last Sunday’s thrilling final. McCaffrey was forced to an early exit however, as he sustained a dreaded cruciate injury.

Regardless, it’s been a memorable week for the family, with two senior All-Ireland medals heading back home to Clontarf.

“Listen, Jack had a fantastic season,” she said. “It was disappointing what happened to him, for him.

But I saw him up there, he was delighted for us and for myself. There’ll be big celebrations in the house this week!”
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And when asked if her older brother ever offers her advice, she said that he mainly leaves her to her own devices.

“Jack? Not really. He has a very relaxed approach. To go out and enjoy it. He’s right. To enjoy these days. We know that they come around very, very rarely.”

There was no need for much advice anyway, as the 23-year-old sharpshooter struck two late goals in a remarkable 10-minute cameo.

Dublin players celebrates with the Brendan Martin Cup Champions at last: Dublin celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“The last instruction I was given going in was to do the simple things,” she told The42, of her first goal, an admirable strike. “Going through my head I was like ‘Hmm, should I go for this?’

“It was the girls that created the chance. The gap opened up then and I just went for it. I think it was fortunate, but we were asked to do a job as subs coming in and we were delighted to help getting over the line.”

And the victory was made all the sweeter for McCaffrey, who has just recently returned from injury. Bone bruising on her foot ruled the Clontarf star out for eight weeks.

She came on as a substitute in the semi-final victory over Kerry, but previous to that, her last game in the Sky Blue jersey was the Leinster final.

“It hasn’t been ideal,” she continues. “But I’ve had great support from everyone involved to be able to contribute what we could, when we could. I’m very fortunate with that support system.

I’m delighted with that as a personal achievement, I’m thrilled. But it’s more just like, the team…. God, wait till you see tonight!

“I can’t emphasise enough how thrilled we are to be able to have gotten over the line after having just been knocking at the door for the past couple of years. You saw us out there, we’re just absolutely over the moon. We can’t believe it.”

In the mixed zone after the game, Sinéad Finnegan — who was withdrawn in the first half through injury — described losing three All-Irelands in-a-row as going through a break-up every September for three consecutive years.

And McCaffrey resonates: ”You could compare it to a bereavement. It really is just crushing.

“Anyone who’s been on that side of it would say the same. We are very conscious of how Mayo are feeling. We’ve been there and it’s just a horrible end to what has been a terrific season for them.

“All we’re thinking at the moment is how fortunate, relieved and elated we are to have gotten over the line.

“We didn’t expect anything else. We set out at the beginning of the year, we knew what we could do as a group.”

And for the first time in four years, tonight won’t be like a funeral for this Dublin team. It’s going to be one hell of a party instead.

Subscribe to The42 podcasts here:

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