Jim McCarthy, one of the heroes of Ireland’s 1948 Grand Slam winning team, has sadly passed away. He died peacefully today at his home in Dublin.
McCARTHY Jim (Sutton, Dublin and formerly Cork), 21st April 2015 (peacefully) at home, beloved husband of Pat, wonderful and charismatic father to Orlaith, James, Cooleen, Clodagh, Patricia, Conor and the lovingly remembered Richelle. He will be greatly missed by his family, his sisters Moira, Sr Aileen, brothers Owen and Dan, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, his twenty adoring grandchildren, all his relatives and a multitude of friends and admirers. Rest in peace.
Reposing at his home this Thursday (April 23rd) from 4pm until 8pm. Removal on Friday morning (April 24) to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, arriving at 10.50am for 11am Funeral Mass followed by burial in St Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton. All enquires to Fanagans Donnybrook on (01) 215 3980.
‘He left nothing on the pitch’
Born in Cork in the mid-1920s, James Stephen McCarthy played 28 times for Ireland, making a try-scoring debut in the 1948 Championship opener away to France. He was ever-present during the campaign, forming a legendary back row combination with Bill McKay and Des O’Brien.
The quick-witted flanker, a Munster Rugby and Irish Rugby Writers’ Hall of Fame inductee, scored eight Test tries, a then record for a forward, with braces against both Scotland (1949) and France (1952).
A match programme profile from his first international season said that McCarthy was ‘a wholehearted wing forward in the real Munster tradition. He is a tireless skirmisher who is now adding ability to handle and run with the ball to his previous skill as a dribbler (which was an integral part of the game back then)’.
He was the first Munster player to captain Ireland, leading his country four times between 1954 and 1955 including a win over Scotland in Belfast. He skippered Munster against South Africa at Thomond Park in 1951 and New Zealand at the Mardyke in 1954, and also played for the Barbarians on four occasions against Welsh club sides (1948-1949).
The Ballintemple native, known affectionately as ‘Jim Mac’, won three Championships (1948, 1949 and 1951) and two Triple Crowns with Ireland and toured New Zealand and Australia with the British & Irish Lions in 1950.
The small dynamo of an openside was one of the fittest players of his generation, covering a huge amount of ground in a game. He was a stalwart of Dolphin Rugby Football Club in Cork, with whom he won Munster Junior and Senior Cup honours. He also tasted success with Christian Brothers College in the 1943 Munster Schools Senior Cup.
In John Scally’s book of ‘100 Irish Rugby Greats’, the author noted of McCarthy: “He is best remembered as a breakaway forward of the highest quality. He brought a new dimension to wing forward play, particularly in relation to helping the out-half breach the opposing half.
“A flying redhead, he was an invaluable ally to Jack Kyle, combining with him to devastating effect. His back row combination with Old Belvedere’s Des O’Brien and Bill McKay (Queen’s University), in those years, is among the finest in Irish rugby history.”
Asked about the secret to his success as a flanker, McCarthy simply said: “Wherever the ball is, you be there. When I was playing for Ireland, the best place to be was two feet behind Jackie Kyle.”
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.