Jack Carty could easily lay claim to be Roscommon’s number one sportsman. From Kiltoom, Jack was a brilliant under-age Gaelic footballer with St Brigid’s and Roscommon. Not alone that, he was a superb Soccer player who once aroused the interest of Southampton and West Ham at youth level. Of course he was an exceptional Rugby player where he progressed quickly at schools and club level to become the lynch-pin of the Connacht team that competes in the Pro 14 league and the Heineken Champions Cup. Now in 2019 he has been capped by Ireland at senior level no less than three times, the first Roscommon man ever to be capped at senior level for Ireland.
He is currently training with the Irish team as they prepare for the World Cup later in the year and he will be challenging with Joey Carbury to be the understudy to Johnny Sexton in Japan.
It has been a spectacular rise to fame for the affable 26 year old who has broken several records along the way. He was nominated for Irish player of the year in for the 2018/2019 season, he has broken the points scoring record for Connacht in the Pro14 competition. He had been capped four times by the Ireland U-20’s in 2012, and earlier this year he came on as a replacement in Ireland’s Six Nations game against Italy in Rome to win his first senior cap. He was also capped against France and Wales (a game in which he scored his first Irish points) and he is hoping to be on the plane to Japan when the final Irish squad is named in September for the World Cup.
Despite his incredibly busy schedule Jack retains a huge interest the fortunes of the Roscommon footballers and is thrilled the way they have progressed in 2019. He spoke to me recently.
To start can you give me a few details about your backround?
“I am from Kiltoom, I went to school in Balybaby National School, after that I went to Marist College in Athlone and after that I went to NUIG where I did a B.Comm. I played Rugby with Buccaneers the whole way up and played Gaelic Football with St Brigid’s and I also played soccer with Hodson Bay. I have two brothers, Luke who is also involved with Connacht in the Rugby and Ben who is in Dublin and I have two sisters Deirdre and Aoife”
Tell me more about your involvement in GAA in your younger days
“Well I played with Rugby all the way up and with regard to the Gaelic Football, I played under-age with St Brigid’s and I played with Roscommon and was on a Fr Manning Cup team (u-16 inter-county) that won the competition for the first time in 15 or 16 years. I was actually captain of that team and we beat Sligo in the final. There are still a couple of lads on that team playing for Roscommon at senior level today but that was a great memory. I also played minor for Roscommon a couple of times. But at that stage I was playing Rugby at under-age level with Buccaneers and then with Connacht.
So how did the Rugby career evolve after that ?
“There were a lot of lads that I was playing with who broke through at Connacht level but I had to bide my time and be patient. I actually played my first game for Connacht in 2010/2011 but then I didn’t play again for another year and a half at least. It was very frustrating at time but I put my head down and worked hard and it paid dividends in the end thankfully”
Who has been the biggest influence in your Rugby career ?
“I have been blessed that I have had some great coaches all the way up. Charlie Cooper was a massive influence early on in Athlone, and to be honest there have been too many to mention, all great people. Nigel Carolan, the attack coach in Connacht the was also a major influence and I have been lucky all the way along. To be honest and I’m still learning every day.
You have had some fantastic years with Connacht but did u always yearn for that first Irish senior cap?
“It was always an ambition of mine to play for Ireland at senior level and I knew that I had to find a high level of consistency in my game. I was confident myself that I was up to that level but it was all about eradicating small mistakes. Once I realised what was causing those small mistakes in my play I was able to take my game to a higher level. Fortunately earlier this year I was lucky enough to be capped against Italy in Rome”
What was it like running out to represent your country for the first time at senior level in front of your family and friends?
“It was fantastic but it was even more special the following week when we played France at The Aviva and I got a second cap because all my family, my extended family, grandparents an friends were all there to share in that. There were a lot of people who couldn’t get to Rome but they were all there the following week so that was great. I didn’t really think about it until the Six Nations was over, and yeah I have very fond memories of it to be honest. It’s the ultimate that you can achieve in the game”
You are in the wider World Cup and you are in training camp, so how is that going ?
“It’s been really enjoyable to be honest. We have had two weeks on and a week off than and it is really tough training. We are doing a lot of running and stuff in the gym at the moment. We are getting stronger and fitter and then they are planning to introduce us to Rugby bit by bit. It’s been tough, but with the two weeks training and then a week off there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been great going around the country to the different towns and cities too. It was great being in Galway last week. We saw lot of familiar faces and there werea lot of Connacht fans there that I know well”
I presume a place on the plane to Japan is the ultimate goal ?
“Yeah that’s what we are all aiming for, but there is a lot of training and Rugby to be played before that happens. The final squad won’t be picked until the end of September. We have four games to play between now and then so if I get a chance in those games I have to be ready to impress and play the best I can and try to stay injury-free. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Naturally I’d love to go because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity”
So what do you think are Ireland’s chances in the World Cup in Japan?
“I know that the ultimate goal is to win the competition but we are taking it game by game week by week and month by month. Our goals is to improve every day and every week we train and we have not been looking too far ahead as of yet. There is a long way to go and we will look at the actual competition later in the year but at the moment it’s all about our preparation.
Have you been following the fortunes of the Roscommon football team this summer?
“Oh I have for sure, they have been doing great and I’m thrilled for them. They were very unlucky against Tyrone and I didn’t get to the Dublin game. But they have made a massive improvement in the space of 12 months and they are so competitive now. Of course they are under the management of a good St Brigid’s man Anthony Cunningham and he has brought much more steel to them. You can see that they are much stronger physically this year and they have improved so much in defence. If they can keep improving the way they have been going this year I have no doubt that we could see the Sam Maguire coming to Roscommon in the next few years. I always take a huge in interest in how they are doing and I wish them well for the future. Who knows, if things didn’t turn out the way they did on the Rugby front I might be on that Roscommon panel but that’s the way it goes”