Jack (Carty) of all trades would be a fitting way to describe the Connacht out-half’s early endeavours into the world of sport.
Carty may now be a key part the Irish rugby setup as well as one of his province’s most important players but there was a time when it was a round ball rather than an oval shaped one which had most of his attention.
The 26-year old, in addition to representing Roscommon in Gaelic football at minor level, was also an incredibly talented soccer player.
Carty played for Ireland at U15 and U16 level alongside the likes of Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Matt Doherty and was talented enough to earn a trial with Premier League side Southampton.
Speaking as he was nominated for the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award for 2019, Carty outlined that at the time a ‘transfer embargo’ – or so he thought – denied the outhalf the chance to go over and impress the St Mary’s faithful.
“I got offered trials in Southampton. I actually got the letter when I was in rugby training and my dad gave it to me. I think my parents had it for maybe two or three days. Subsequently, I got it and, as you are when you’re like 15 or 16, you think “alright I’m gone, I’m going to play in the Premiership.
“Little did I know that it takes so much longer to do anything like that. I got the letter and nothing happened then for a couple weeks, and I was like ‘what is going on?’ I remember asking my parents and they were like ‘there’s a transfer embargo at Southampton’ at the time, that’s what they said. “
Carty explained however that he only found out recently, the transfer embargo had, in fact, been fabricated by his parents as they wanted him to stay in Ireland and do his Leaving Cert.
“[I thought] yeah grand, it will obviously come about. Then I kind of dwindled away from soccer.
“Actually, after this, I think it was before the Six Nations or after, it was quite recently. I was saying to my parents ‘Jesus, I was actually lucky I didn’t go over [to England] as I wouldn’t be here now today.’
“And my mum was like ‘yeah, there was no transfer embargo. We kind of let that fizzle out because we wanted you to do your Leaving Cert.'”
The Connacht man has had a break-out year for the province, leading the Pro 14 in points scored as well as finding himself in the top five for try assists.
But does he feel that his experience in both soccer and Gaelic football have benefitted him in his rugby career?
“I’ll probably say because of playing Gaelic underage — and a variety of other sports — it’s probably, touch wood, it’s helped me be more robust in terms of managing injuries.
“I played loads of different sports on the whole. In terms of playing Gaelic, it helped my tactically kicking; kicking out of the hand. Playing soccer, you always have your head up so you’re always looking for space in front of you. So I’d say those are probably the things that stood out.”
James Ryan and Jack Carty were on hand to announce the nominees for the 2019 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award. The Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards, one of the biggest nights in Irish sport, will take place on Wednesday, 15th May, at the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge.