The sight of Jack McCaffrey blazing a trail underneath the Hogan Stand as he links defence with attack is one to behold for Gaels around the world. In a Dublin side that is all-conquering, on his day, McCaffrey might well be the best to watch.
As good as Dublin are, the overall standard of Gaelic football in recent years has not been pretty on the eye, so much so that various rule changes are to be trialled in the 2019 National League.
However, McCaffrey believes the game was fine the way it was.
“No. I didn’t. I’ve been at club championship games this year, I was up watching Portlaoise and Crokes the other day and it was a cracking game, and there’s been some incredibly entertaining games throughout all levels,” McCaffrey said.
“What you have to remember with new rules is that it’s not coming in and exclusively affecting inter-county football. They might make two or three inter-county games a better spectacle for spectators but if that comes to the detriment of the hundreds of thousands of people playing club football around the country it’s a no-brainer to not do that. “
McCaffrey admits the game has become very defensive in recent years but feels that as Gaelic football continues to evolve, we will gradually move past this phase.
The assumption of many though is that football needs to up its standards so it can be put on the same pedestal as hurling. 2018 in particular, was widely regarded as the best hurling championship of all time, and we can’t look past that.
However, the Clontarf man feels that we need to stop the comparison between the two games, because whilst they operate under the same banner, they are two different sports.
“Football has been very defensive the last couple of years in some quarters but I kind of got the sense we were coming out the other side of that. There are very few teams that do drop everyone behind the ball and just soak up attack after attack. I’ve really enjoyed playing it and I find it really interesting to watch it as well.
“It definitely suffers when it’s held up against hurling, which is a different sport altogether. If you want 36 scores per team, per game we’ll need a lot more rules in Gaelic football. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think it needed these. I didn’t think it needed anything really.”
For McCaffrey, the decision to implement these new changes wasn’t the result of a knee-jerk reaction, he believes the rules committee have the GAA’s best interests at heart.
However, a failure to highlight what exactly they are trying to achieve with these rule changes is something that doesn’t sit well with him.
“I wouldn’t say knee-jerk in fairness. I’d be a firm believer that everyone involved in the GAA is trying their best. We all love the Association and are trying to promote it and make it the best version of itself.
“I know there’s a committee and it’s been well thought out, and it is only experimental so I’m sure the door is open for it to be scrapped if it doesn’t go well. I think maybe it won’t do exactly what they’re hoping it should do.
“If the GAA could come out and say exactly what they’re trying to achieve, at least we’re all working off the same page and can have a proper discussion about it as opposed to hopping on Twitter and being either exceptionally positive or exceptionally negative and that’s probably where the knee-jerk reactions come into it.”
When it boils down to the decision-making process, McCaffrey admits that the players were consulted, but the rules committee paid no heed to what they thought. In the end, the Dublin star would rather they not have asked them at all.
“It’s not that we weren’t involved in the decision process, it’s that we were involved in the decision process and overwhelmingly voted against certain things, that were then done anyway.
“So it actually would have been preferable if they just didn’t ask our opinion and did it, as opposed to asking our opinion, realising several people did want it but the majority of people voted against it for example the handpass rule, and then it’s in.
“That was a bit of a strange tactical decision on their behalf. I don’t know, who am I to decide the rules of Gaelic football? Just because I play for an inter-county team I don’t think I should have a say, I think straw polls of club and inter-county players would be helpful.”
Star Dublin footballer, Jack McCaffrey has pulled up his socks again for Christmas Sock Day which returned on Thursday, 6th December 2018. Developed by labels-for-less retailer, TK Maxx, the campaign invites the public to sport their Christmas socks to raise funds for Enable Ireland, which provides vital support services for children and young people with disabilities across Ireland. Get involved by sharing your own #socksie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.