Wednesday 19 June 2019

'I just can't believe Tadhg used to run around with them' - Scott Fardy impressed with hurling

Scott Fardy (centre) wearing his Wexford tracksuit top in Parnell Park last Sunday with his Leinster team-mates Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath (right) for the hurling clash between Wexford and Dublin. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Scott Fardy (centre) wearing his Wexford tracksuit top in Parnell Park last Sunday with his Leinster team-mates Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath (right) for the hurling clash between Wexford and Dublin. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

It wasn't necessarily the sporting spectacle that so surprised Scott Fardy in Parnell Park last Sunday.

Rather the fact that the man next to him, in a former life, once aspired to be amongst them. Then again, nobody else in the Leinster squad can boast a Division 5 county winner's medal with their club.

"I just can't believe Tadhg Furlong used to run around with them," smiles the former Australian international Fardy, with a nod to some, like current Wexford centre-back, Matthew O'Hanlon, who once shared a pitch with Furlong in other days.

Sadly, the Irish international tight-head didn't get to celebrate a weekend double, a mis-hit last-minute free preventing Davy Fitzgerald's men garnering a prized away win in the Leinster Championship round robin.

"It was a good day, a nice day for it," adds Fardy, who even sported a Wexford top for the day.

"They are great athletes and they have an amazing skill level so it is always a good, entertaining watch. A bit disappointing in the end though!

"He got me that jacket a while ago. He had promised to take me a while ago but we couldn't get down to Wexford so the game being where it was meant it was nice and close so we headed over.

"He's got nicknames for all the lads. He's just yelling out their names. I love the crowd, I love how passionate they are about the game. It was the same when I went to Croke Park with guys screaming out. I enjoyed that.

"I went to the Clare-Galway semi-final last year in Croke Park. That went to a replay so I haven't seen a win or a loss yet!"

There must be a definitive result this weekend, however, when Leinster face Glasgow in the Guinness PRO14 final; and another crossing of the codes, given the venue is the city's Parkhead cathedral.

Quite a few Aussies have paraded their wares there, notably Mark Viduka and Scott McDonald as well as, currently, Tommy Rogic.

"It's obviously a famous football ground and I was saying the other day how I've played in a few of them now.

"I played in Newcastle last week and in Bilbao last year. They are great stadiums, the crowd is right on top of you and it makes for a great atmosphere."

A Liverpool fan, it is suggested to Fardy he might now have made more appearances at Champions League grounds than most other Aussies until he intervenes snappily.

"Harry Kewell won one mate. He came off early but he played."

Fardy's immersion in Irish culture should not seem all that strange; such is his determination to thrive here, he has rejected a chance to play at this autumn's World Cup; he would have been a natural choice for Michael Cheika, himself a one-time teak-tough back-rower.

And so, the 34-year-old, a late bloomer to the Wallaby shirt – he was 28 when he won the first of his 39 caps – has effectively turned his back on the international game.

With the complicated overseas dilemma at Leinster imminently resolved by the eligibility of Jamison Gibson-Park for Ireland – to be followed by James Lowe – it's fair to say he feels right at home, even if thousands of miles away from it.

"No one treats me like an overseas player here," he insists. "I'm just one of the squad, I feel. I don't feel different to anyone else here.

"If someone is playing better than me, they're picked ahead of me. That's the way it is. I think that's the case when you play here."

His versatility might lead one to assume he is merely a utility option but he is much more; arguably, just as influential, in a more studied, understated way as those halcyon imports like Brad Thorn and Rocky Elsom before him.

At once ready to deputise this week for either Devin Toner or, now more likely, Seán O'Brien, his value is keenly felt by Leo Cullen, which is why he was so eager to extend Fardy's stay.

Irish Independent

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