Stellar display puts Jack Carty in contention to make World Cup squad

Player ‘delighted’ to be named Man of the Match on his 27th birthday

Of all his birthdays Jack Carty is unlikely to ever forget his 27th. He wore the fabled Irish number 10 jersey for the first time, was part of a winning team in the Principality Stadium and, albeit a little sheepishly, accepted the Man of the Match award.

Furthermore, his family were also there in force in what was a pretty memorable day for the extended Carty clan.

“Mum (Susan), dad (Ted), sister (Aoife), sister’s partner (Mark), my girlfriend (Rebecca), my brother (Ben) and then my brother (Luke) was playing an A game in Bridgend. They had a good win, 40-17,” he said in reference to the Connacht Eagles’ win over the Ospreys As which kicked off at noon.

“They were all there for the first half and then came here.”


In the first-half especially, Carty settled quickly into his stride, helped – thanks largely to David Kilcoyne and Bundee Aki – by the kind of front football which the unfortunate Ross Byrne was not exactly blessed with on his full debut last week in Twickenham.

Carty struck the ball well out of hand and ran the show confidently to begin with. He’d nearly sent Aki clear in the second minute and again accelerated off quick ball from Kilcoyne’s barnstorming break at the defensive line. Falling forward, he passed the ball back from left to right in locating Andrew Conway’s inside support run for the winger to set up Jacob Stockdale’s first try in the move of the match, and Carty augmented a confidently struck 40-metre penalty with the near touchline conversion.

Really promising

“It was class to be able to lead the team, and put my stamp on it with what I can do. First and foremost it was just about playing in the right areas and adding what I can to the team.

“I suppose the difference between this weekend and last week was we got a good platform from the forwards and when they’re smashing people around the corner it makes my job a lot easier and when they are getting in behind teams you can play on the dinner plate at times. Hopefully that can continue!”

As for his award, he admitted: “I was surprised with the Man of the Match to be honest. It’s probably just that it was my birthday that I got it. But, yeah, I was delighted, especially that first 40. There was some good things in there. I thought we controlled it quite well.

“Coming from last week I think our defence was really promising. I think the forward pack especially gave us dominance and it is much easier when you are winning collisions. Wales I suppose tried to keep the ball in play a bit, and I think our work rate to get back into shape was quite good. Yeah, not a bad birthday present,” he said, smiling.

Carty was left to rue Romain Poite’s call when his skip pass to put Conway over in the corner was adjudged fractionally forward, probably the right call although a harsh one in the current climate which interprets the ball leaving the passer’s hand laterally before floating forward.

Ireland did eventually turn that spell of scrum-based pressure into a penalty try and a 22-3 lead, although Carty bore his responsibility for the game management that contributed to Wales then re-entering the game.

Better option

From the restart, Carty moved the ball back inside the Irish 22 to Conway, and from the ensuing turnover penalty, Wales mounted their first of two try-scoring sieges. Never beaten until the Fat Lady sings, as usual they only needed a sniff.

“I tried to play to Bomber [Andrew Conway] and the better option would have been to put it back down there,” he accepted.

Against that, he provided more evidence of his much improved defence in that last quarter.

"I was happy defensively. I suppose I missed Owen Lane but I was tracking across like a shot there towards the end."

That effort took its toll too, as a limping Carty could be seen patrolling the backfield in the endgame.

“It was a bit of cramp. I play week in, week out, with Connacht with no cramp and then you come here and it is 60 minutes and you are cramped and they are telling you there is no one on the bench to come on,” he said with a rueful smile. “Yeah, I was in the backfield and I covered a lot of distance. It was grand.”

He was content enough, and you could hardly blame him, but next comes the waiting game to see if he’s made the cut.

“I’m going to go home to Athlone, then just spend the day with family. It will be a nervy day, but hopefully I did enough today to get the shout.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times