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McCarthy Ready For 7s

Following an extended break from the game, former Schools star and 2008 Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with Castletroy College, Diarmaid McCarthy, chats about a return to the game that's seen the winger win his first senior Munster cap and represent both province and county in Sevens rugby.

After his involvement with Munster and Ireland at U18 Schools and U19 level, McCarthy opted to take a break from the game. From there his rugby involvement became intermittent until he made a return to the club game with Young Munster last season. Winter nights training at Tom Clifford Park became the starting point for the Limerick-man's return to the provincial set-up and impressive showings for the Cookies led to an invitation to train with Munster in early 2015. Before the end of the season McCarthy found himself featuring for Munster 'A' against the Ulster Ravens and Connacht Eagles.

"I got back into rugby last September, I had a hunger in me and I had always wanted to go back playing so I made the decision to start training with Young Munster. I was progressing well at training and my fitness came back to me pretty quickly. Thankfully it was the same in matches and when I got some game time with Young Munster, one thing led to another and I got the chance to head down to Munster training at UL.

"After being involved with Munster before I had some idea of what to expect. Knowing the environment and having the hunger for the game made things a bit easier. My whole lifestyle had to be changed, since I was last in the Munster set-up it's come on so much and that advancement took a while to get used to.

"With the S&C, nutrition and the overall lifestyle that they teach in Munster there's been a huge physical transformation in me since I've come back - I'm often my own worst critic so usually other people have to tell me about it rather than me seeing it myself."

Having trained with Munster for all of the current pre-season, McCarthy's ability and effort was rewarded with inclusion for the first game of the 2015/16 Kearys Renault Series against Grenoble at Thomond Park last Friday - his first senior appearance for the province, playing 20 minutes from the bench.

"To be honest it still hasn't sunk in properly. Since I was small I always wanted to play for Munster and playing for Munster 'A' earlier in the season was a nice transition into the senior game. Getting to play with the likes of Tyler Bleyendaal was great too, he's a big ball player and I like playing outside him. Those experiences have been wonderful and anything that happens next I'm just grateful for."

Running parallel to McCarthy's involvement with the Munster senior set-up was his training with, and subsequent inclusion in, the Ireland Men's 7s squad with the speedster featuring for both the Wolfhound's 7s team and Men's 7s team at a number of tournaments across the summer.

"I had heard last year that a national Sevens programme was coming about so I set that in my sights and thankfully I've made the grade so far. "I always wanted to play Sevens, what back wouldn't with a full size pitch with loads of space? Having played with the Ireland 7s set-up over the summer it really opened up my eyes as to how skilful and tough a sport it is. Going on tour in Lisbon, Bosnia and Croatia we played a mixture of teams, some better than others, but one of the things we learnt most was you need to save your thunder, you can't be going flat out into everything.

"That was the hardest part for any one of us - you always want to be your very best and go for it every time and the temptation is always there when you see the space, but sometimes you have to be a bit smarter in how you play - save yourself from burning out."

McCarthy will bring his Sevens experience and know-how to Munster this Friday and Saturday when he lines out for the province in the Limerick World Club 7s.

"With Munster this weekend we'll have some tough opposition like Samurai Invitational for example. They're a side that I played against in the GB7s and we know they're an excellent outfit who travel the circuit and know it well. "The first match will be a good guide for fellas - after that they'll know exactly where they stand. The diversity of the teams and rugby cultures on show this weekend are great for Munster guys too. Every team brings something different so every aspect of your game will be tested and that's part of the beauty of Sevens."

This article first appeared on www.munsterrugby.ie