WATCH: Limerick sporting all-rounder featured on unique Rugby World Cup ball

A LIMERICK woman, who played both senior rugby and soccer for Ireland, is part of an exciting initiative involving a unique rugby ball which has travelled to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Jackie McCarthy O'Brien, who is originally from Kileely in Limerick city, is part of the Gilbert/Vodafone initiative which has seen the creation of a world first ball grip that features the fingerprints of 32 people representing the 32 counties of Ireland. 

Ireland’s Ball travelled out to Japan with Joe Schmidt's squad ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup team as a symbol of the #TeamOfUs support for Irish Rugby from fans in Ireland and around the world.

Jackie McCarthy O’Brien is a former Munster player and Irish Rugby international. The talented sporting all-rounder also played soccer for Ireland during her distinguished career on the pitch.

Ireland’s Ball is a unique rugby ball that celebrates the diverse fabric of modern Irish society. The 32 people selected to contribute their fingerprint to Ireland’s Ball represent Irish rugby fans and the #TeamOfUs from every corner of the country.

As well as Limerick woman McCarthy O'Brien, contributors to the ball include Ciara Griffin (Kerry), Captain of the Women’s Rugby team; John Burke (Clare), who summited Everest in 2017 and Maeve Cox (Meath), the first baby born in Ireland in 2019.

A full list of participants can be found at  

Jackie McCarthy O'Brien played soccer from 11 years of age right up to 33 when she retired, playing with Limerick, Pike Rovers, St Mary's Park and Greenpark.

Along the way, the Limerick woman won 13 senior international caps for the Rep of Ireland between 1983 and 1994, making her international derby against Northern Ireland. 

The talented centre forward scored three senior international goals for her country.

Fulfilling a life long desire to play rugby, Jackie began playing rugby with Old Crescent after retiring from soccer. Initially she had arrived at the club with the view to doing some fitness coaching.

She quickly assumed a second row role with the team and within six months was playing for Munster.

Having impressed with Munster in the inter-provincials, the opportunity to play for Ireland came about.

Jackie McCarthy O'Brien played rugby for Ireland for four seasons, playing in the European Championships and in the 1998 World Cup squad.

She made the transition from second row to number eight for Ireland, winning 13 caps in rugby too between 1994 and 1998.

The sporting all rounder played her club rugby with Shannon after Old Crescent, winning the All-Ireland League with the Parish side. 

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