Former Republic of Ireland underage manager Sean McCaffrey has passed away today at the age of 58. The Monaghan man took charge of the national Under 17, Under 18 and Under 19 sides which developed many members of the current international squad as well as spending time in charge of Monaghan United and Dundalk.
The zenith of his illustrious coaching career may have been the 2008 European Under 17 Championships squad which included current internationals Conor Hourihane and Robbie Brady while defenders Greg Cunningham, Gavin Gunning and Mark Connolly, as well as attacker Aaron Doran carved out decent careers in England and Scotland respectively. From the same squad John Sullivan, Gearoid Morrissey, Johnny Dunleavy and Richie Towell have been some of the most prominent players in the League of Ireland in recent times.
This is just a small sample of the players Seán helped develop throughout his time in charge of international teams, while he was equally as active in his FAI role as Football Development Officer in the North East as well as helping local footballers in whatever way he could.
Speaking to the FAI website, John Delaney described McCaffrey as a ‘football man’ who was ‘passionate about the development of the game, he drove Irish football on’. This was evident throughout his career, from his involvement in the early days of Monaghan United, his work with local side Oriel Celtic and the North Eastern Counties Schoolboys League, all his international player development right to the present day where John Mountney and Chris Shields are multiple league winners at Dundalk after being signed initially under McCaffrey's reign.
The many tributes which have appeared online have paid tribute to his gentlemanly and generous nature while also recognising the influence he had on many footballing careers throughout the country.
Our condolences are extended to family, friends and all who mourn his passing. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.