If things had panned out as expected in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Sunday, Connacht fly-half Jack Carty might have got more than a few minutes on the field for what was his first international cap, but the Kiltoom native was still delighted to join the select club of players who have represented the country in the Six Nations.
“I’ve been working a long, long time for it and I’m delighted to finally get the monkey off the back and get a cap at long last,” he said after the 26-16 win on Sunday.
“To be honest, I’ve only been in the circle for the last couple of weeks so I wasn’t going to be expecting massive game-time, but it’s definitely something to build on now. I can finally say I’ve played for Ireland and now build for two, five, hopefully ten caps after that.
A large entourage of family and friends followed Jack over to see the former Roscommon underage footballer make his debut for his country, but Jack himself was very conscious of one family member who wasn’t able to be there in Rome.
“It was a thing in the last 11, 12 months where I put my head down. I didn’t want it to be ‘what if?’ scenario. It’s coming up on a year since a close cousin passed away and before he passed away, he would have said, ‘Don’t have any regrets or anything like that.’
“Brian was 28 and he passed away this time last year. I’m delighted for my family but his family as well. It’s been a tough time for everyone, I’m delighted that I can dedicate this cap to him.”
After an up-and-down few seasons, Carty has been in scintillating form for Connacht this year, leading to his call up to the international panel. He pointed out how standards in the international set up were considerably higher again, but that he hoped his own skill set would add something to the group.
“Initially it was a steep learning curve, coming into a squad with a different way of playing and different set plays. But the lads helped me transition quickly and I was thrilled to get a few minutes there.
“I feel really good. There would have been ups and downs with inconsistency and probably being a little bit too flamboyant at times but I’ve managed to rein that in and play percentage rugby, while still managing to have that bit of flair and bring the ball to the line.
“It was a strange scenario I was in and going onto the bench is not something I’d be used to either. I was just happy I was able to get a cap in the end,” he concluded.