Established just two years ago, the Munster Rugby Academy for elite young players in the province has firmly evolved into the premier training ground for up and coming talent in the province. Last year saw the introduction of the John McCarthy Academy Award for excellence, which is presented annually to the player in the Academy displaying exceptional character, commitment and dedication to all aspects of the great team game that is rugby. Munster s Tomas O Leary became the inaugural winner of the Award. This year s Award is being presented at a dinner in the Moran s Silver Springs Hotel on Tuesday 8th August by Dr. Paul McCarthy and Mr. Garrett Fitzgerald, CEO of Munster Rugby.
The Award, donated on behalf of the late Count Dr John McCarthy by his family, is a significant honour, given that John McCarthy was an exceptional sporting and academic character amongst his peers.
The late Dr John McCarthy was born in Midleton in 1906, educated at the Christian Brothers Midleton, Castleknock College Dublin and studied medicine at UCC where he qualified in 1931. Described as a brilliant rugby player he played with UCC and Munster, he was also the Cork County 100 yard and 220 yard champion.
After qualifying as a Doctor he went to England where he continued his rugby career with London-Irish and Middlesex. In 1960 he was honoured by being made a Fellow of the British Medical Association. In 1973 he was invested as a Knight of Malta for his many years of voluntary work in Lourdes. The Pope also honoured John McCarthy on several occasions, awarding him a Knighthood of the Order of St Gregory in 1960 and elevating him to the honour of a Papal Count in 1972.
In keeping with the excellence and character achieved by the late John McCarthy in his lifetime, the recipient of the annual award is bestowed with a great honour. It is hoped in years to come that the perpetual trophy will include the names of many respected Munster and Irish players. Some recent players to graduate from the national Academy programme include, Ronan O Gara, Peter Stringer, Frankie Sheahan, Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Marcus Horan and Anthony Foley to name but a few.
We hope to see many such distinguished names engraved on the John McCarthy trophy in the coming years.