Paddy McCarthy hoping to follow in big brother Joe’s footsteps
This month is set to be a big one in the burgeoning rugby careers of brothers Joe and Paddy McCarthy.
Whereas Joe has been selected in a senior training squad that will assemble at the IRFU High Performance Centre on June 18 for the first block of pre-season in preparation for this year’s World Cup finals in France, Paddy is set to feature for the Ireland U20s in their World Rugby U20 Championship opener against England in South Africa just six days later.
While Australia and Fiji will also provide stern opposition in Pool B of this latter tournament, the younger McCarthy sibling and his Irish team-mates are confident of building on their magnificent Six Nations Grand Slam success in the spring.
“2019 was the last proper World Cup. It’s exciting to be playing in one. We’re very lucky to be getting the opportunity to do that,” McCarthy acknowledged.
“It’s the biggest competition I’ve been involved in ever. Going to a country like South Africa, it’s a massive rugby country, they’ve won three World Cups themselves. It’s a huge opportunity for us and something I’m really looking forward to.”
Despite being played on an annual basis from 2008-2019, the Covid-19 pandemic ensured the U20 Championship wasn’t staged by World Rugby for the past three years.
Although this meant the elder McCarthy missed out on some valuable game time in the underage international ranks, he did help Ireland to claim a Triple Crown before the pandemic brought the 2020 edition of the U20s Six Nations to an abrupt halt.
Joe has since gone on to establish himself in the professional ranks with 19 first-team appearances at Leinster being supplemented by a senior international debut against Australia last November. Given he has now been offered a spot in the province’s Academy for the 2023/24 season – alongside seven of his Ireland U20s colleagues – Paddy is hopeful of a similar career trajectory.
“It’s another stepping stone in playing for hopefully Leinster and Ireland. Hopefully it can develop my game a lot being in a club like Leinster. There’s a really good set-up there and so many great players. It’s a really competitive environment. I’m delighted to be joining the Academy.
“I definitely learned a lot from him [Joe]. It’s easier for me when I see him come through the whole pathway. He understands how things go and I get to see that. It’s definitely a big help for me seeing him do it and then I can go on and follow in his footsteps. Maybe slightly different as well in my own journey.”
McCarthy was speaking on Wednesday from Trinity College Dublin, where he is a sport scholarship student studying for a degree in Global Business. Being in this third-level institution has also led to him playing in the All-Ireland League with Dublin University and the tighthead prop waxed lyrical about the benefits of the grassroots level of Irish rugby.
“I played about eight games in the AIL. It’s a really competitive competition. You get to play against ex-pros, other Academy players. Guys who maybe didn’t make it, but are still really strong players. The level of intensity and the competition those guys put in every week, it sets you up really well for any really high level of rugby,” McCarthy added.