"He would have been a phenomenal rugby player" - Jack Carty on Michael Murphy
"There's a lot of GAA players that I think could have done both."
Michael Murphy left an impression on Jono Gibbes, Aurelien Rougerie and the Clermont crew, back in 2017. Jack Carty feels the Donegal sharpshooter would have made a handy rugby pro.
At the recent United Rugby Championship season launch, we sent Alex Roberts along to pitch some questions at the league's top players.
At the launch, Alex spoke with Connacht captain Jack Carty about rugby stars that had tried out other sports, and asked what other athletes prosper with the oval ball. Carty, who once played with the Roscommon Minors, commented:
"There's a lot of GAA players that I think could have done both. Michael Murphy is a full forward that plays with Donegal. He would have been a phenomenal rugby player.
"There's obviously some incredibly intelligent athletes in the NFL and NBA, then. LeBron James could probably have done any sport he wanted. Can't see many soccer players making that transition across."
When Wolves and Spain winger Adama Traore was mentioned as a possible candidate, Carty commented, "Yes. He wears the Vaseline on his arms, to stop lads pinching him. He's a beast."
Of course, Michael Murphy did have a week-long stint with Clermont, for 'The Toughest' television series, back in 2017. While Shane Williams had a crack at GAA, with Glenswilly, Gibbes & Co. put Murphy through his paces at the Top 14 giants.
— AIB_GAA (@AIB_GAA) February 28, 2017
Eight other GAA stars with impressive rugby backgrounds
In an extensive SportsJOE piece written by Niall McIntyre, a few years back, he listed eight GAA stars that showed lots of promise at rugby. You can read the reasoning behind each selection HERE, but here was Niall's top eight:
1. Andy Smith (Galway)
2. Kevin 'Chunky' Hayes (Galway)
3. Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)
Tipperary's sharpshooting corner forward could just as easily have been an out-half for Munster.
"I played rugby for six years when I was in school - I went to a rugby-playing school. I played for a year when I went to college and, after that, I just focused on the round ball," he explained on the latest GAA Hour.
"When you're playing it for seven years on the trot, you develop the skills and the know-how to go with it but I never thought about it too much to be honest. I always enjoyed it."
"When you're playing out-half, you kind of have control over the game which I enjoyed. A lot of stuff would go through the out-half which suited me but I'm happy enough where I am now. With the knocks the rugby boys are taking these days, I don't think I fancy too much of that to be honest."
4. Sean Armstrong (Galway)
5. Graham Geraghty (Meath)
6. Diarmuid 'The Rock' O'Sullivan (Cork)
7. Dean Rock (Dublin)
The Ballymun Kickhams man played rugby with his secondary school, CUS, as he told us:
“I would have played a huge amount of rugby and I would have went to rugby training rather than Gaelic training on numerous occasions. "I suppose when I came to 18, I thought which one am I better at and I was slightly better at the Gaelic even though I enjoyed rugby just as much. It was just a decision that I made that I would stick with the Gaelic. Obviously, I'm glad that I have done so.”
8. David Beggy (Meath)
One of the zippiest, paciest and most talented forwards to have ever put boot to an O'Neill's Size Five, Beggy also graced many a rugby pitch with his presence. Beggy wore the blue of Leinster in the 1980s.