Debut boy Jack McGrath gives Ireland’s future a good perspective

All in the attitude for loosehead prop who knocked Samoans down to size

 Brian O’Driscoll  and Devin Toner congratulate new Ireland team-mate Jack McGrath on a good performance in a scrum against Samoa. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho.

Brian O’Driscoll and Devin Toner congratulate new Ireland team-mate Jack McGrath on a good performance in a scrum against Samoa. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho.


Flashes of entertainment came in many guises Saturday night. But they were all too brief. Besides witnessing a paper air plane that glided from the top tier onto the field, scrum after nauseating scrum and pretty flicks from Number 13, what did we learn Saturday evening?

The Irish rugby public, fickle bunch that they are, had to endure a boring first half before warming to the second period as the chill set in.

Brian O’Driscoll’s Neo-like skills made us melancholy about his imminent demise. The crowd seemed to have forgotten Paul O’Connell was togged until he raced up the touchline and ripped off his tracksuit when Peter O’Mahony took his now customary break to get stitched up

The Cork man had just picked a fight with the biggest man to ever emerge from a Pacific Island, Iosefa Tekori. As he tends to do. And we know now that Jack McGrath has no problem wasting precious storage space on his television with Fair City. We also confirmed the St Mary’s beast is a Test standard loosehead prop.

From the kick-off Steve Walsh began his always heavily self-scripted cameo role in the production by awarding Samoa a scrum. McGrath burrowed into Leicester’s Logovi’i Mulipola and continued to produce a highly respectable nuts and bolts display over the next hour.

The man-of-the-match accolade really belonged to Rory Best or O’Mahony but it went to the debutant.

“Seemingly it went well,” McGrath shrugged. “I didn’t think it went that well, personally.”

That’s his attitude.

Wonder how Cian Healy will react to all this. But all this is good news. Marty Moore is rumbling about with increasing intent while Mike Ross was the actual destructor of the Samoans. Tom Court is not yet spent and don’t forget there are two very able looseheads – James Cronin and Dave Kilcoyne – simmering down in the red province.

“Between myself and Cian, whoever gets the nod, or Tom Court, it doesn’t really matter,” said McGrath. “We’re a team, a unit, we’re a tight-knit group. Whoever gets it will get the highest praise and look out for each other, help each other. I can’t say I’ll get there next week but if I don’t, I’ll be happy for whoever it is I’ll be happy to see them there.”

That’s his attitude.

Anyway, this was McGrath’s first vault over the pommel horse and he landed with aplomb before being relieved by his understudy, Healy.

A relaxed 24-year-old Dubliner, he strolled into the mixed zone late Saturday night, gave the radio lads a few giggles before turning his attention to the print jackals.

Standard first cap questions follow. Nervous Friday night? “I try not to get that nervous the night before because you burn up that nervous energy. So I was feeling a bit sick this afternoon, just with nerves. It was an emotional day, doing it for your friends and family.

“You would well up and get a lump in your throat. Heart of stone if you didn’t.

“It goes really quick.”

How did he pause the nerves? “Just went home, chilled out for a while. Watched a bit of Fair City, caught up on it.”

You record Fair City? “Yeah, yeah, it’s a great show. That’s breaking news for you there now.”

That, you see, is his attitude. The big easy.