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Gridiron fan Joe McCarthy's 'man and ball' mantra paying off for Ireland

We can safely say that Joe McCarthy had a lie-in on Monday morning.

After an energy-sapping 80-minute shift for Ireland against Italy on Sunday afternoon, the Leinster lock had big plans for the night ahead.

Super Bowl, baby!

It's unknown if the 22-year-old, who won his seventh cap at the Aviva Stadium, lasted the duration as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in overtime at about 4.30am Irish time, but that was the plan anyway.

"Yeah, Super Bowl Sunday, I will [watch it]. It’ll be a good watch with the boys," he said after the 36-0 win, which puts Ireland top of the Guinness Six Nations standings after two rounds.

It’s no surprise that the 6ft 6in, 17st second row is a gridiron fan.

McCarthy, born in the USA, made two big sacks on Italy out-half Paolo Garbisi that wouldn’t look out of place in the defensive line.

"I love the defensive side of the game, probably like it more than the attack sometimes," he said.

"They say defence wins championships, so it is good.

"I love getting off the line, I love pressuring teams, love getting them 'man and ball', getting [stuck] in at rucks

"I like watching the defensive players in NFL, like seeing the stuff they do.

"At the moment I like Maxx Crosby from the [Las Vegas] Raiders. I liked JJ Watt when he played.

"He is a beast, or was, he is retired now. I don’t think I’ll be changing over to the NFL any time soon. I’ll stick with the rugby.

"I was born in New York so I’d probably say [I'm a fan of] the Giants. The Jets had Aaron Rogers so I’d suppose I’d say a New York team but I am not a crazy big follower."

Italy only had two visits to the Irish 22 throughout the six-try defeat and it was the first time in 37 years - since Ireland defeated England in 1987 - that they kept a team