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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 23 October, 2018
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Dublin native MacGinty makes USA debut at out-half against Samoa

The former Blackrock College playmaker kicked 11 points for the Eagles.

AJ MACGINTY MADE his debut for the USA on Saturday as Mike Tolkin’s side lost 21-16 to Samoa in the opening round of the Pacific Nations Cup.

25-year-old MacGinty played the full 80 minutes at out-half for the Eagles, kicking 11 points as he missed just once from the tee.

AJ MacGinty played the entire 80 minutes for the States.

The Dublin native previously played schools rugby with Blackrock College, where his father Alan is still the principal, then moved into the club game with Blackrock RFC’s academy.

6ft 1ins MacGinty studied at the National College of Ireland after leaving school, before making a move to New York on a one-year visa. The creative playmaker, formerly a scrum-half, initially played with NYAC in the Big Apple.

2012 saw MacGinty sign up with Life University in Marietta, Georgia, where he has studied towards a Master’s degree in Sport Health Science and excelled on the rugby pitch at out-half.

PEN MacGinty fires over a penalty for the Eagles.

Having qualified to play for the US earlier this year under residency rules, the highly-rated MacGinty was called into the Eagles’ squad last month as World Cup preparations kicked into life under head coach Tolkin.

MacGinty was handed the number 10 shirt for the meeting with Samoa in San Jose on Saturday, his debut in senior international rugby.

The out-half had an understandably nervy first half, involving some loose kicking, but grew into the game impressively after the interval and demonstrated his attacking skill with a handful of linebreaks and some crisp passing.

Off the tee, MacGinty missed just one of his four penalties and also added a conversion to Titi Lamositele’s 74th-minute try. The build-up to that score saw MacGinty himself go close to touching down after he ran an intelligent line off replacement scrum-half Mike Petri.

Break Dublin native MacGinty makes a scything break.

MacGinty will now hope to feature again for the Eagles in the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup clashes against Japan on 24 July and Tonga on 29 July as he strives to gain selection in their final 31-man World Cup squad.

Also in the Eagles team was Cork native John Quill, who won his 11th cap for the Eagles at openside flanker and played the entire 80 minutes as Tolkin’s side were beaten by the Alesana Tuilagi-inspired Samoans.

Formerly an Ireland Schools international and with Munster caps right up to ‘A’ level, Quill qualifies to play for the US through his mother. The back row has had spells with London Welsh and the London Irish academy, as well as Dolphin RFC in Ireland.

Break Before Try MacGinty bursts onto Petri's pass to go close.

Ex-Trinity College captain Scott LaValla played 30 minutes off the bench for the Eagles, while former Ireland and Ulster prop Justin Fitzpatrick was present alongside Tolkin on the sidelines in his role as forwards coach.

The US has constantly-growing links to Irish rugby, with the likes of Greg McWilliams and Gavin Hickie coaching there and men such as Dave Gannon, Dylan Fawsitt, Cathal Doyle, Marcus Walsh, Blair McIlroy and Mark Gribben (all at Life University with MacGinty) playing Stateside.

Ex-Ulster and Ireland ‘A’ back row Neil McMillan is currently working with USA Rugby in a strength and conditioning role.

On the replacements bench for Samoa in Saturday’s game was prop Jake Grey, a legend at Crosshaven RFC, with whom he won an All-Ireland Junior Cup in 2011.

Having played U20s rugby for Samoa, the front row was convinced to move to Ireland, spending in the region of six years with junior outfit Crosshaven. The chance to join the senior Samoa fold was irresistible, however, and Grey returned home to make his international debut against Japan last year.

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Murray Kinsella

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