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'It Was Strange. The First Half Went By In A Whirlwind. My Head Was All Over The Place'

'It Was Strange. The First Half Went By In A Whirlwind. My Head Was All Over The Place'

There are aspects of his injury that Jack McCaffrey would change and others that he would not.

"My anterior cruciate ligament ruptured. Clean is a good word for it," McCaffrey told Balls at Dennis Mahony Motors in Kilbarrack on Wednesday afternoon.

"Often times when you do that, you take out all the collateral structures as well but mine was cruciate and cruciate alone. From that side of things it was the best way to do your cruciate I think, with the minimal added damage."

What he would change, apart it having happened at all, is the time of the game in which it occurred. McCaffrey was taken from the Croke Park pitch after just four minutes of last year's All-Ireland football final.

The big regret around it is how early it happened. It's the one thing, if it had to happen, if it could have happened in the 67th minute' I'd have been a lot happier. But look, we won.

McCaffrey hasn't been around the Dublin panel much in recent weeks but he was there when they rewatched the All-Ireland final last month. As he had been lying on the physio's table for the first half, there were moments he missed - moments which he subsequently enjoyed watching.

"There was a stage when Brian Fenton tried to solo a ball and he just kicked it straight to a Mayo player. There was a stage when Paul Mannion tried to flick the ball up into his hands and just tripped himself up - I hadn't seen any of these in real time because I was in with the physio. I really enjoyed that!

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"It was strange. The first half, like that went by in a whirlwind. I was inside and then I was out. My head was all over the place."

The 24-year-old's rehab is going well, "ticking along nicely". Thursday is another important day on the calendar of his recovery. He's heading to the Santry Sports Clinic for a review with the surgeon.

The injury is the first major one of McCaffrey's football career. It's a break from football which he has not endured since he was 13 and had Osgood-Schlatters, a condition which causes knee pain in adolescents. That led to him taking the bones of a year off from the game. Though, he still turned out in goal for Clontarf on the odd occasion.

jack mccaffrey injury

McCaffrey isn't putting a definite date on his return. He doesn't want to end up disappointing himself. As a student of medicine in UCD, he knows the importance of not making a premature comeback. When he does pull on a blue jersey once again, he wants to be at 100 percent.

"There's these little goals you have along the way, say doing a certain exercise in the gym or getting back fully straightening your leg at the start of whatever night. I've been trying to work on these little three or four week blocks with small, attainable goals.

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"I don't like the idea of months away, trying to pick a date and probably invariably you'll end up missing it and you'll be disgusted. You just set yourself up for a fall.

"I did one of these interviews a while back and said something about the start of the championship which was thrown around but I'm not going to put any kind of dates on it. I'm literally just going by those little four-week blocks.

"The most important thing for me is to get back to where I was, to get back to 100 percent. If that takes a month, lovely. If it takes two years, you just have to be... This is your knee. You've to make sure you're 100 percent. There's no point pushing on going back.

"There's so many stories I've heard of people setting dates trying to make it and setting themselves back nearly to square one so that's something I'm really trying to avoid."

Denis Mahony Motor Group has renewed its support of Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey and Dublin Ladies footballer Noelle Healy. By simply registering to take a test drive in any Toyota Hybrid model at either of Denis Mahony Toyota branches, drivers can nominate a local GAA club of their choice to be in with a chance of winning an exclusive training masterclass, led by Jack and Noelle and held at their own club. For more information, see: http://www.denismahony.ie/web/test-drive-competition/

See Also: 'The Writing Was On The Wall' - Clifford College Manager Questions Crazy Schedule

PJ Browne
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