FOR the first time in many years, there will be a familiar face missing from the touchline at Temple Hill when rugby eventually resumes in the AIL.
Former Munster and Ireland player and former Munster scrum coach Paul McCarthy will leave a big void at the club given his experience and his expertise, but he feels it’s time for a break.
He has been part of a successful backroom team at Cork Constitution along with Brian Hickey, Kenny Murphy and Jonny Holland over recent seasons.
He has been there and done that in coaching and felt with the talent Con have in their side on and off the pitch, now was an opportune time to take a break.
“Look, I’ve been playing rugby since the age of seven from say September to April or May every year since that age, through underage, through schools rugby in PBC, then into Munster and Ireland playing and then Munster as a coach so it’s time to take some time out.”
The experienced coach was involved in two Heineken Cup winning squads as well as Celtic Cup and Celtic League winners as well as be forwards coach to a Munster B & I Cup winning side alongside Ian Costelloe.
Macker as he is known has still got the distinction of being Munster’s longest serving coach in the professional era having worked with Declan Kidney, Alan Gaffney, Tony McGahan and Rob Penney.
“I learned a lot from the four of those lads but probably more from a friend and mentor in New Zealand named Mike Cron.
“He helped me to look at setpiece in a totally different way and it was great to be able to bring all that knowledge back and pass it on to the young fellas.
“I went straight into coaching the Con U20s with Squeaky (Brian Walsh), I just wanted to put back something into a club that had given me so much and at the time I really didn’t want to go into the senior set up.
“We won the Fraser McMullen Cup in our first year in charge and had a great side. Natural progression of those players to the senior ranks saw McCarthy follow suit and it has been a great ride with the side making two of the last four AIL finals.
“Con is a club I love; always have, always will. I will certainly still be keeping a close eye on them, but I just felt the time was right to take a break from the game,” said the Ireland business development manager for services outsourcing company Veolia.
“I suppose with my job I have been blessed that they have backed me in everything I have done with rugby especially when I was working with the U18 Schoolboys side with Noel McNamara in charge a few years back for a tournament in Poland.
“Ireland brought me in to look at how the front row was playing and see what could be done to improve it.
“They had props from Blackrock and Terenure at the time but I had watched a few of the other props and Andrew Porter was actually one of the props I brought into that squad along with Conan O’Donnell.
“I don’t think we took a step backwards in any scrum in the tournament until we met England in the final. They were huge, somethings never change.
“That Ireland Schoolboys team were some outfit; James Ryan, Jacob Stockdale and Max Deegan were all there. I think Mack (Noel McNamara) thought I was off my head a bit because I insisted on bringing our own scrummaging machine to Poland for the two weeks camp before the competition.
“We beat, France, Georgia and Wales on the way to the final and it was a fabulous experience.”
McCarthy helped set up structures for developing front-row schools in Munster by night while working within the province’s professional side by day.
“During the day I would be working with Bull Hayes and at night be out in CIT working with up and coming players like James Cronin and Stephen Archer. That idea was one of gems I picked up from Mike Cron.
“At the time there wasn’t a structure for coaching so we put front row clinics in place and that has helped bring through some great guys locally like CT (Conor Twomey) and Leeser (David Lee).”
So with that kind of experience, McCarthy’s influence will certainly be missed.