‘I got Southampton trials but my parents told me there was a transfer embargo’
AS WELL AS proud, Jack Carty’s parents must have been extremely relieved after watching their son come on for his Ireland debut against Italy during the Six Nations earlier this year.
The Connacht out-half came off the bench in Rome to make the breakthrough at international level, having forced his way into Joe Schmidt’s plans off the back of a superb run of form at provincial level.
Carty in action for Roscommon during the 2009 Connacht minor football championship final. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Carty would go on to win two further caps during the championship, again coming off the bench to replace Johnny Sexton against France at the Aviva Stadium and then during the Cardiff horror show on the final weekend.
At a recent family gathering, the 26-year-old had time to reflect on his journey and the achievement of getting capped by Ireland, only to discover his parents had — unbeknownst to him — played a considerable role in shaping his sporting career.
A multi-talented teenager who represented Roscommon in Gaelic football and won underage soccer caps for Ireland at U15 level, Carty’s performances for his club side, Hodson Bay Celtic, caught the eye of Southampton scouts.
But after a letter from the Premiership club inviting Carty over for a trial landed in Athlone, his parents — keen for him to complete his Leaving Certificate at Marist College — may have misled the Connacht 10.
“I got offered trials in Southampton,” he explains. “I actually got the letter when I was in rugby training and my Dad gave it to me. I think my parents had it for maybe two or three days.
“Subsequently, I got it and, as you are when you’re like 15 or 16, you think ‘alright I’m gone, I’m going to play in the Premiership’.
“Little did I know that it takes so much longer to do anything like that. I got the letter and nothing happened then for a couple of weeks, and I was like ‘what is going on?’
“I remember asking my parents and they were like ‘there’s a transfer embargo at Southampton’ at the time, that’s what they said.
“I thought yeah grand, it will obviously come about. Then I kind of dwindled away from soccer so forgot about it.
“Actually, quite recently, I was saying to my parents ‘Jesus, I was actually lucky I didn’t go over [to England] that time as I wouldn’t be here [playing rugby for Ireland] now today.’
“And my mum was like ‘yeah, there was no transfer embargo. We kind of let that fizzle out because we wanted you to do your Leaving Cert.’”
After winning his first Ireland cap in Rome. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
During his soccer days, Carty — yesterday nominated for the Zurich Irish Rugby Players’ Player of the Year award — played alongside future internationals Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Wolves star Matt Doherty, but says he has no regrets over what happened.
It has turned out alright for him.
“I’m happy,” he continues. “The chances of me making it there, I would have backed myself but I knew I had to be realistic. I played U15s seven or eight times, but for U16s I didn’t get picked.
“I was a centre-half, I would’ve been the same height as I am now and I was good in the air. Technically I wasn’t that good. Any time the ball was at my feet I just pumped it 40 yards down the pitch!
“You’d fellas like Mark O’Brien who was playing at Derby County, you’d Matt Doherty who signed for Wolves, Danny Joyce who was playing at Reading, so all these players in England and I was still playing with Hodson Bay back in Athlone.
“We weren’t great, we weren’t competitive, we’d win the odd game. A decision had to be made, did I want to go and play with Athlone Town and play League of Ireland or to continue playing Gaelic, rugby and soccer and that was that.”
– Originally published at 11.13
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