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Clontarf resigned to losing 'very, very special player' Carbery to the big stage

‘Tarf coach Andy Wood says his young out-half is a formidable operator with and without the ball.

Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

THERE’S AN OBVIOUS grace to the way Leinster academy out-half Joey Carbery moves around a rugby field.

The 20-year-old seems to glide through attacks almost effortlessly, improving every ball he gets his hands on with an innate knack of knowing the perfect moment to release and only seeming ready to break into a sweat when his change of pace can break the line.

Yet after yesterday’s terrific man-of-the-match performance in a tightly-contest Ulster Bank League Final, his coach at Clontarf preferred to pin-point some of the more steely elements to his game.

“Whether he was taking a high ball under huge pressure or running our attack shape or making breaks himself it was a pretty spectacular performance,” said Andy Wood as the last of his delighted ‘Tarf players reluctantly made their way down the Aviva Stadium tunnel.

“Defensively, whether he stands at 10 or 15 he can make some pretty effective and dominant tackles.

“He’s a very, very special player. We’ve been lucky to have him this year.”

Clontarf players celebrate winning Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

Wood can’t quite bring himself to hope aloud that the out-half will be at his disposal again next season. Carbery made a brief Leinster debut in March and, with Ian Madigan packing his bags for France, he can feasibly target Ross Byrne and Cathal Marsh in the contest to be Jonathan Sexton’s understudy.

With the Ireland head coach in attendance at the Aviva Stadium, it was Joe Schmidt’s name that was put to Carbery. Even after a tour-de-force where he helped himself and two team-mates to tries in nine jaw-dropping first-half minutes, the Auckland-born Athy man had no trouble keeping his feet planted firmly on the ground.

“It’s good to stand out in a game, but the most important thing for impressing him I reckon is just keep training,” said Carbery with 13 of his club’s 28 points to his name.

Darren Sweetnam with Joey Carbery Munster and Cork Con's Darren Sweetnam tries to haul Carbery back. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

“Keep developing over the next few years and hopefully I’ll be in the (shake-up) for opportunities. I feel like I’ve definitely so much still to learn. Hopefully with the good coaches we have, they can continue to help me develop and improve.”

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The good coach is of a similar mind, but at club level it’s impossible to ignore the weapons at Carbery’s disposal.

“He’s aware of the skills he has,” adds Wood, “but he’s very composed and he’s very honest with himself — a great guy — the confidence he has and the composure instills that confidence across the rest of the players.”

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Sean Farrell

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