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Monday 1 September 2014

Currow's latest rugby star is causing a stir with Ireland at Under-20 World Cup in France

Published 12/06/2013 | 05:36

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STANDING at 6' 6 and weighing in at eighteen stone, it seems that Ireland Under 20 player Sean McCarthy has boots big enough to fill the likes of Moss Keane, Mick Galwey, Tom and Mick Doyle, Siobhán Fleming and JJ Hanrahan in the line of Munster and Ireland rugby players hailing from the parish of Currow.

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Rugby was not Sean's first love, however.

"I pretty much tried my hand at everything when I was young, but I really enjoyed football, basketball and athletics."

A true athlete, the 20 year old has represented Kerry at minor football level, as well as Ireland in the European Championships at basketball.

Beginning his rugby career with Castleisland Rugby Club at the age of 10, Sean now finds himself a member of the Munster Rugby academy. This is a full time commitment, but one he he obviously relishes.

"Usually training would consist of a gym session in the early morning and then a pitch session during the day.

"During pre-season this would be more, but when in season it would usually be two sessions a day. Being involved with the academy does take up a lot of your time and is quite tough, but is really enjoyable."

Having played with the Irish Under 18 schools and Under 19 teams, Sean made the natural progression into the Under 20 squad this year for the Six Nations in Feburary.

"The Six Nations was mixed really. We went into it with hopes of winning, but that didn't go our way. We got two huge wins, beating England and France, but drew with Italy and lost to Scotland and Wales narrowly. With a bit of luck we could have been in with a shout but overall we weren't too happy. We have a chance to fix that now in the Junior World Cup."

The Under 20s recorded a historic 19-15 win over Australia last Wednesday in the Junior World Championship in France, and followed this with a 46-3 rout of Fiji on Sunday. Although Sean only managed a quick cameo appearance off the bench for the Australian match, the win was very much a squad effort.

"We knew that we would be underdogs going into the game, but we have been going well in training so we went in with huge belief. There's great confidence and belief in the squad, which was evident in the game."

Due to the quick turnaround, and nature of the tournament, a vast number of changes were made for the Fiji game. One of these found Sean starting in the second-row, his position of choice, although he has featured at number eight for Shannon in the AIL.

Sean signed to Shannon, the same club as his uncle Mick Galwey coached and played for, at the beginning of this season after captaining Rockwell to a Munster Senior Schools Cup title. Injuries, emigration and representative duties saw Shannon suffer this season as a result.

"My first year with Shannon has been great. We didn't finish where we wanted and got relegated in a playoff but that aside I've really enjoyed it."

With so much achieved at such a young age, Sean finds it difficult to pick out one stand out moment.

"I don't think I could mention a single highlight being honest. My first Irish cap with the Irish Schools team in 2010 was a great honour for me. Winning the Munster Senior Schools cup in 2011 and winning it being the captain in 2012 is also a huge highlight."

Rugby is very much a collision sport now and with bigger hits come greater chance of injury. The longevity of a rugby player's career is very rarely in his own hands. However, Sean has his focus firmly set.

"The goal is to keep playing and enjoying my rugby. I'll just have to see where that takes me."

Although most eyes will be glued to the Lions' exploits down under, the Junior World Championship in France will be sure to provide good viewing and can be seen on TG4.

* Ireland play New Zealand in a top of the table clash on Thursday (June 13) at 17:45 Irish time.

Kerryman

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