GAVIN DUFFY ISN’T the only Connacht rugby player with a GAA background – Roscommon trio Jack Carthy, Danny Qualter and Shane Layden all represented their county in Croke Park before opting for the oval ball.
Like Robbie Henshaw and winger Tiernan O’Halloran, who represented Westmeath and Galway respectively, the Roscommon trio lined out for their county from development squads right up until the minor grade.
Carty has of course had a major impact upon Pat Lam’s team this year, making six appearances between this season’s Rabodirect PRO12 and the Heineken Cup. The out-half traded in the GAA after lining out at wing-forward for the Roscommon minors in their 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Kerry.
Also on that team were 6ft 5in lock Qualter and full-back Layden.
Qualter rotated between full-forward and midfield to the dismay of the Kerry defence, but he too hung up his football boots after the loss.
Along with Carty and Layden, he also won an U16 Ted Webb Connacht Championship medal a year earlier. He’s since gone on to play for the Ireland U20 team for two years, as well as making two Heineken Cup appearances.
Although he loved every second of representing his county, Danny decided that he “just wanted to give the Rugby a good go,” and he did!
Qualter’s dad Seamus is a well known inter-county hurling manager, managing both Westmeath and Roscommon over the years, while his grandfather was the Galway hurling legend P. J. Qualter.
Danny was actually a prominent hurler in his youth too, oh and a champion rower….
Layden stuck at the GAA for a year longer than his two Connacht and Buccaneers team-mates, representing the minor team again in 2010. That year he suffered provincial heartbreak against Mayo in the Connacht semi-final.
Layden’s all-action displays in the 2012 U20 Six Nations culminated in him being awarded the man of the match award after a match-winning try and performance against Wales.
His progress has been halted by injuries since, but as he continues to make a name for himself in the Sportsground, he’ll never forget his time playing for the primrose and blue…
These three are only starting out their careers in the green jersey, so there’s no sign of any of them making a comeback to the GAA any time soon.
But who knows what trend Gavin Duffy may have set. Maybe one day?