GAA Football

China-based Caolan Rafferty admits Orchard return difficult

Armagh will certainly miss Caolan Rafferty's pace and power next season
Andy Watters

CAOLAN RAFFERTY hopes to pull on the Armagh jersey again in the future, but admits his work commitments will make that difficult, if not impossible.

The Granemore clubman, who was a fixture in Orchard county teams in recent seasons, has been contracted out to the Hong Kong branch of Bank of America Merill Lynch by his Newry-based employer First Derivatives. The move was the opportunity of a lifetime for the 25 year-old, but the drawback for Rafferty is that furthering his career could mean being based in the world’s financial hotspots

“Obviously, I want to play for Armagh again but, with my job, it’s hard to get work back home,” he explained.

“The stream I’m in, you have to be in the financial hubs of the world - London, Hong Kong and New York… so it’s a wee bit difficult to get good work back home. I’ll just take it a year at a time and see what opportunities there and take it from there.”

Rafferty has been living in Hong Kong since October and says he is enjoying the work and lifestyle in the enormous Chinese city: “It’s pretty good,” he said.

“It’s working with the traders, so it’s exciting, it’s a bit stressful but not too bad. I’m coping alright - getting there. As far as I can see it at the minute, I’ll be here for a year at least and then I’d say come next September I’ll have a look at it and see what I’ll do going forward.

“I’ll do at least a year’s stint out here - I have a 24-month visa, so it wouldn’t be too much hassle to spend another year. I’ll just take it a year at a time.”

Last season, Rafferty featured in six games in Armagh’s successful Division Three campaign and was one of the success stories of a disappointing Championship campaign, scoring two points in a losing cause against Donegal and two more in the win over Wicklow.

Despite his absence, he predicts a successful 2016 for the Orchard men: “I’m looking forward to the season ahead for Armagh,” he said.

“There was a lot of good groundwork put in last year and the main goal was to get up to Division Two, which we did. It was good to get the Division Three title because it was a few years since we had won something.

“I can see us finishing in the top end of the table and that would set us up well going into the Championship because, as we saw last year, it was too big of a jump for us going from Division Three football to playing Donegal in the first round of the Championship. Hopefully that extra hard work and the extra quality of the teams in Division Two will push them harder to get a better run in the Championship.”

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for Rafferty to get snapped up by Hong Kong Gaelic Football Club - The Football Dragons: “We have two competitions a year and then friendlies and I’m playing Aussie Rules as well, so I’ll have plenty of games between the two,” he explained.

“The pitch is unbelievable - one side, you have all the skyscrapers and, the other, you have these massive green mountains. The pitches are brilliant - they usually play on rugby pitches. It’s hard to beat the Irish culture when you go away and it’s good to fall in with that crowd and the craic is just as good as at home.”

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