Connacht's Jack Carty set to celebrate birthday with first Ireland start

Connacht’s Jack Carty will celebrate his  first Ireland start againts Wales.

Connacht’s Jack Carty will celebrate his first Ireland start againts Wales.

All Connacht eyes will be on Jack Carty who is set to make his first Test start for Ireland in Saturday’s World Cup warm-up against Wales at the Principality Stadium (2.30pm ).

Carty boasts five caps for Ireland, but if selected as expected, this will be his first start in the No 10 jersey - coming on the same day as he celebrates his 27th birthday. And it is also likely he will have his Connacht halfback partner beside him, with Kieran Marmion also tipped to line-out.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says Carty is one of a couple of players who need more time, but with the World Cup looming, he says the 26-years-old is "highly likely" to start against Warren Gatland's Welsh outfit.

With Johnny Sexton still doubtful, Joey Carbery recovering from injury, and Ross Byrne having struggled against England, the time is ripe to start with the Connacht outhalf.

It will be a big moment for Carty who made his debut against Italy in the 2019 Six Nations following a superb season with Connacht. Always talented, the Buccaneers player has endured obstacles in his career, not least the removal of his spleen, but last season he blossomed for Connacht, earned a place in Schmidt's training camp, and was nominated for the PRO14 Dream Team.

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Carty's younger brother Luke was in action for Connacht when he lined out for the Eagles who enjoyed a positive start to this season's Celtic Cup campaign with a 24-19 win over Welsh side Dragons at the Sportsground on Friday.

Although Dragons outscored Connacht with three tries to two, the home side's endeavour and appetite, and their pack prowess ensured they survived a late effort from the visiting Welsh side.

Outhalf Conor Dean, who had made his senior debut against Munster last season, kept Connacht's scoreline ticking over with four penalty kicks in the first half to level the score 12-12 at half time - Dragons' scores coming from two tries and a conversion.

However Connacht were boosted by a try soon after the break with former Roscrea student Lucas Culliton pouncing after charging down a kick.

Although Connacht's defence looked shaky at times, they held firm in the second half, and thanks to a pack that dominated at scrum time, Mikey Wilson touched down for a try that sealed an opening cup victory.

Mossy Lawlor's Eagles now travel to Wales to take on Ospreys at Bridgend on Saturday (12 noon ).

In other rugby action the Connacht Women had a tough opening to their interprovincial with Munster, losing 27-6 at The Sportsground on Saturday, while the Connacht U18 girls enjoyed a 10-0 victory over their Munster counterparts.

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