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'It's not a manager's role to talk a player in or out of anything' - Jim Gavin on McCaffrey's Dublin exit

The former Sky Blues boss expects the Clontarf flyer to thrive as he concentrates on club football.

Jim Gavin and Jack McCaffrey after the 2019 All-Ireland final replay.
Jim Gavin and Jack McCaffrey after the 2019 All-Ireland final replay.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

FORMER DUBLIN MANAGER Jim Gavin has spoken out about Jack McCaffrey’s decision to step away from inter-county football.

There was major shock last week when it was reported that the former Footballer of the Year has stepped away from Dessie Farrell’s set-up, and may not return.

Star defender McCaffrey, who works as a doctor, is now expected to focus on his club football with Clontarf — and Gavin expects him to thrive on that.

The 26-year-old previously opted out of the Dublin set-up to travel in 2016, and Gavin — his manager at the time — says managers cannot force players to represent their county.

“It’s not a manager’s role to talk a player in or out of anything,” the former Sky Blues manager said, speaking alongside Michéal O’Muircheartaigh on Off The Ball this evening.

“They all volunteer their time, and their life, as we always said, is defined by the choice that they make. If they can commit to representing their county as best they can, then there is a self-sacrifice and a price to be paid. That’s just the reality of it.

“I meant that in terms of the social aspect of not being able to… if they are going to train on a Saturday morning, then recovery is such a big part of high-performance sport. They need to get a good night’s rest and they can’t be out socialising with their friends. That is really important.

“And obviously their careers as well,” six-time All-Ireland winning manager Gavin added in conversation with Joe Molloy. “We placed huge emphasis on players developing their careers, and academically doing well, because they really are two glass balls — to use that analogy — that can’t break.

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“The one that will always come back to you is that sometimes players will step away for career development, academic purposes or something else, but sport will always be there. The GAA will always be there for any player that needs to take a step back from inter-county.

The community and the club is the bedrock of our Association, and we are going to see some fantastic championship games throughout the length and breadth of the island over the next coming weeks. I’m sure we’ll see Jack doing really well there.”

Elsewhere, Gavin discussed his own Dublin departure and later praised the GAA for their Covid-19 return-to-play protocols, saying “we’re up there with even professional sport.”

He also said he believes that a four-week window will be long enough for teams to get ready for the 2020 inter-county season.

The two GAA greats shared an all-round intriguing conversation in which they touched on their personal experiences with lockdown, their respective careers to date and talked plenty of Gaelic football.

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Emma Duffy

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