'It's 30 grown men running around a field chasing a ball, you can't take it too seriously'

Jack McCaffrey has learned to realise there’s more to life than football.

Jack McCaffrey celebrates Dublin's All-Ireland win last September.
Jack McCaffrey celebrates Dublin's All-Ireland win last September.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IN 2014, WHEN words like ‘devastating’ and ‘heart-breaking’ were being thrown around to describe Dublin’s exit from the All-Ireland senior football championship at the hands of Donegal, at least one of Jim Gavin’s men knew there were worse things in life.

Earlier that summer, Jonathan Ranson was enjoying a trip to San Diego on a J1 but a freak accident while diving into a swimming pool left the 21-year old student from Clontarf with a broken neck.

Now paralysed from the chest down, Ranson has been told he is an ideal candidate for future medical advances in neurosurgery, but his plight helps childhood friend, Dublin wing-back Jack McCaffrey, keep the highs and lows on the football field in perspective.

“Jonathan’s a good friend of mine, we grew up a stone’s throw from each other and his birthday is just five days after mine,” McCaffrey said this week.

“We were in a close group of friends growing up, we went to school together, played Gaelic together and did everything together.

“I actually found out about it after one of the games in the 2014 championship, we were out having a few drinks as a team.

“I got a phone call off my dad and he asked me if I’d heard anything about Jonathan and at that stage I hadn’t. The next day, news started filtering back.”

And what impact did it have on McCaffrey’s view on football?

“For nine, ten months of the year football is your everything and you get put into a bubble but it’s very, very important to realise, at the end of the day, it’s 30 grown men running around a field chasing a ball so you can’t take it too seriously.”

To help raise awareness of his friend’s situation, McCaffrey will take part in The Jonathan Ranson Trust Fashion Show on Sunday 18 October in the Hilton Hotel on Charlemont Place.

It’s something he’s equally excited and terrified about.

“I didn’t need to be asked twice to get involved with it as he’s a a good, loyal friend who would do anything for any of us so this is the least we could do.

“I’m really out of my comfort zone here but it should be interesting anyway.”

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

But how does it compare to running out in Croke Park on the third Sunday in September?

“All-Ireland final day is funny. You’re just going around in the parade with a big smile on your face and the pressure kind of just evaporates then and the nerves go out the wind.

“I’ve never done anything like this before so it should be interesting. There’s a few of my friends from Contarf doing it too. I tried to rope in some of the other lads from Dublin too but it’s on the same weekend as the next round of the championship so a lot of them won’t be available, unfortunately.”

The Jonathan Ranson Trust Fashion Show takes place at Hilton Hotel, Charlemont Place, Dublin 2 on Sunday, 18 October at 7pm. A small number of tickets are still available here

The four players at centre of Galway hurling revolt revealed as stand-off continues

Dublin footballer Dean Rock got more than he bargained for on a school visit yesterday

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

Read next: