IT is not that long ago that Castlehaven’s David McCarthy started for the Ireland international U20 side against France in an U20 Six Nations rugby championship encounter.
The Union Hall man’s meteoric rise saw him make a name for himself within rugby circles as a player to watch out for having come through the Munster sub-academy. AIL experience with Garryowen plus captaining a Munster Development U20 squad against Ireland boded well for the University of Limerick student’s future.
Unfortunately, and surprisingly, an academy contract offer was not forthcoming in 2018.
Every cloud has a silver lining however and that development permitted McCarthy an opportunity to return to Castlehaven and another of his sporting passions – Gaelic football.
Rustiness was to be expected following a two-year absence but McCarthy showed he has lost none of his positional sense or ability to join the attack following a commanding display at centre-back in the Haven’s recent JAFC win over Diarmuid Ó Mathúna’s.
‘It was a big shock to the system coming back playing GAA simply because the fitness levels have improved unbelievably since I last played,’ McCarthy told The Southern Star.
‘The biggest difference was definitely fitness as GAA players need to keep going all day. Watching it, you wouldn’t really appreciate it until you get back out on the pitch and are in the thick of it.
‘The running, soloing and obviously my ball-handling skills needed work having been involved in rugby for so long. I would hope to improve week on week though as time goes on.
‘Unfortunately, I didn’t get offered a new (rugby) contract so my immediate aim is to keep playing AIL and keep improving year on year and see where that takes me.’
Returning to the welcoming atmosphere of a Castlehaven dressing room always intent on winning has helped McCarthy reacclimatise to his surroundings. Getting another opportunity to line out for his local GAA club is clearly something that is very important to the UL student.
‘Throughout the year playing rugby I’d always come home at the weekends and meet up with the lads,’ McCarthy noted.
‘It wasn’t that much of a transition back to GAA because I know all the lads so well. I grew up with all of them and getting a chance to play with them again is something I’m enjoying. Right now, I’m simply playing for the pure enjoyment of it.
‘Castlehaven are going well in the West Cork JAFC right now and just taking things game by game. We are taking every challenge as it comes. Kilmacabea are obviously a great side having won the West Cork last year and I’m looking to that quarter-final.’