Connacht have been boosted by the re-signing of centurion Mike McCarthy and the capture of dynamic backrow Eoghan Grace from the Exeter Chiefs.
Mike McCarthy joined Connacht in 2003 and left for Newcastle Falcons the following season where he earned 67 caps including 7 Heineken Cup appearances in 3 seasons. He returned to Connacht in 2007 and the 6’4” 113kg second row has been ever present in the squad since. McCarthy was born in London where he attended Sedbergh school before joining Wasps in 2001, he represented England in the 2002 U21 World Cup in South Africa under coach Brian Ashton before moving West to Connacht in 2003. He was called into the Irish squad ahead of the 6 Nations Championship this year and got his first cap for the Ireland Wolfhounds against the English Saxons on the 4th of February. Mike ‘Macca’ McCarthy earned his 100th cap for Connacht in the Amlin Challenge Cup against Bayonne this year and his new contract will see him stay at the Sportsground until the end of the 2012/13 season.
“I’m really pleased to commit to Connacht, it’s been a fantastic season so far and this team is really going places. Being part of this squad has helped me to develop as a player and I am looking forward to playing my rugby here for the next 2 seasons.
Eoghan Grace was a member of the Ireland Under-20 side that captured the Grand Slam in 2007 and also played for Ireland in the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in Dubai.
He was regular with Shannon in the All-Ireland League before the 23-year-old back rower was released from his Munster Academy contract (where he was Player of the Year in 2009) to pursue a season's rugby with Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership. The 6’2, 100kg Waterford born player has been playing openside flanker but can cover any of the backrow positions with ease. He will join Connacht at the end of this season on a 2 year deal.
“It’s a great opportunity to come back to Ireland and progress my career with Connacht Rugby, I’ve had a great chance in Exeter this season and have learned a lot from coaching staff there, but a move to Connacht is a positive step in my career and the chance to play with some of the lads and coaches who I played with at underage level at Ireland is just great.”
Head Coach Eric Elwood spoke about the 2 signings:
“We’re very happy to be keeping Mike onboard, he’s been an integral part of the squad for the last number of seasons and having a senior player with Mike’s professionalism and experience commit to the team is a huge boost.
We are also very excited about Eoghan joining us next year, he is a mobile, dynamic ballcarrier and will make an excellent addition to our squad. Eoghan was part of the Ireland U20 squad in 2007 so we know what he is capable of and look forward to working with him.”