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"People feel like they own you" | Jack McCaffrey on All-Ireland finals build-up

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

16:35 8 Jan 2020

Jack McCaffrey has opened up about the pressure of living and working in Dublin during the build-up to an All-Ireland final.

McCaffrey joined Off The Ball for the first time since Dublin's historic five-in-a-row football triumph and spoke candidly about the issues being around the city prior to the showpiece event.

Jack McCaffrey: small-talk master?

"It definitely is a challenge and was certainly a challenge when I started playing with Dublin," said McCaffrey of the issue.

"You don't really realise until your first one, how much an All-Ireland final takes over your life.

"The energy you can expend trying not to think about it can be quite counter-productive."

The situation, however, has not led to any resentment towards Dubs fans or other interested observers, as McCaffrey was sure to explain.

"Over the years, I have realised that I am quite happy to talk about football with people that come up to me.

"In the lead-up to a final, it is bizarre: people just feel like they own you. You can be walking along the street and just get grabbed by the collar and no-one introduces themselves.

"It can be a bit shocking, but you develop a few little techniques and, unfortunately, you just end up trotting out the same old clichés!"

Pressure

However, there was an element of this environment that can undermine a player's confidence or ability to prepare properly.

"The easiest juxtaposition I would have were the two finals this year, as they were so close together," explains McCaffrey.

"The first one I did my usual thing and chatted away to people, and then for the replay then I probably wasn't as good at doing that as there was a lot more focus on me, personally, as I had played quite well.

"That was something that I was probably not used to mentally or subconsciously; you were just planning on switching off because this was not football time," McCaffrey said of the days after the first match with Kerry.

"It just probably means that you don't say the usual clichés, but the time spent chit-chatting with people about football could have been better-spent thinking about the game the way a player does."

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