McCarthy finally hitting the heights after taking longer run-up than most
Hence, when Michael Bradley expressed an interest in re-signing him it was, McCarthy says, “a no-brainer”. It’s been a hard journey, but a rewarding one these past six seasons.
“The underdog tag suits us, I suppose,” he says. McCarthy is part of the core of the side that has soldiered through some grimmer times, Johnny O’Connor, Swift, John Muldoon and Gavin Duffy, to finally play in the Heineken Cup. Yet he looks back on that campaign largely with regrets.
“It was a great occasion against Toulouse but the occasion overwhelmed us. It was a great win over Harlequins but to be honest, we really felt we possibly should have beaten them away and in Gloucester we were winning until the 75th minute, and it would have been great to get an away win.”
The all-consuming passion which Eric Elwood brings to job pours through the documentary The West’s Awake. “Eric is inspirational. He wears his heart on his sleeve and gives everything to the club, and that commitment to the province rubs off on the players.”
Living in the west affords McCarthy opportunity to indulge in his passion for fishing on his days off and he’s also exploring further studies, most likely in business. Alas, perhaps, for Connacht, McCarthy’s contract is up at the end of the season and rumours abound of Leinster’s interest.
“I’ve not even been thinking about it, just concentrating on these matches and then start thinking about it then.”
To do better today he says simply: “We need to play for 80 minutes. Not just 40 minutes. We went in at half-time (against South Africa) with a bit of a lead, and we needed to come out firing. We, the players, feel we took our foot off the gas, whereas we needed to go for that next score, even three points. So the key message is to play for 80 minutes, not 40 minutes.”
Beyond today, he’d like to think he has a few more good years left in him. “As long as Swifty is doing it, it gives me motivation. I’m really enjoying my rugby and I haven’t even thought about hanging up my boots, hopefully for a long time.”
After the long and winding road he’s taken, the best may yet be to come.
Mike McCarthy Factfile
Date of birth: November 27th, 1981
Place of birth: London.
Height: 1.94m. Weight: 112kg.
Educated: Newlands Primary School, Sussex; Sedbergh College, Cumbria; and Brunel University.
Career: 2001-03: Wasps; 2003-04: Connacht; 2004-07: Newcastle; 2007-: Connacht.
Representative: Ireland: 5 caps.
Locked out O'Connell writes off his Lions tour
Paul O’Connell, who captained the Lions in South Africa in 2009, has virtually ruled himself out of consideration for next year’s tour to Australia fully seven months in advance.
Sidelined during the Six Nations by a knee injury, which resurfaced to rule him out of the summer tour, O’Connell has since been plagued by back problems which have placed a cloud over the career of Ireland’s outstanding forward of this and probably many other generations.
“I’d love to go but at this stage it’s not looking great for me,” a resigned O’Connell said on KFM radio yesterday after just two games in the last seven months. “I’ve spent a lot of time injured now and it’s going to be a bit of a battle to get fitness so while it would have been a goal for me, I suppose right now I’m just looking to get back fit and get back playing as soon as I can. Whatever happens from there happens.”