Sunday 17 December 2017

Blues rue sad fate of O'Malley

Leinster hope for IRFU support as knee injury forces talented thirteen into retirement at 25

Former Leinster player Eoin O'Malley. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE
Former Leinster player Eoin O'Malley. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

LEINSTER will hope the IRFU will look kindly on their 'emergency situation' at outside centre given the sad demise of the career of Eoin O'Malley.

Coach Matt O'Connor does have one more slot in his squad for an overseas player, although Munster's Casey Laulala is the designated thirteen in the 'one overseas player for every position' rule invoked by the IRFU.

Leinster will seek dispensation on the grounds of special circumstances, O'Malley's retirement coming three days before their first pre-season match away to Ulster on Friday night.

Indeed, the decision of Brian O'Driscoll to extend his time as a player with club and country for 'one more year' is looking increasingly significant.

O'Malley was rightly seen as the next best alternative for Leinster with Brendan Macken, 22, the third choice on the back of his slower-than-expected development from the role of a prodigious schoolboy talent. This is a crucial season for Macken.

Zane Kirchner has played at thirteen for South Africa against Ireland. He won't move to Dublin for at least a month. Luke Fitzgerald has been-there and not-done-that at outside centre at the highest level. Both are fundamentally viewed as back-three options.

There are no out-and-out thirteens in the club, other than Macken, with Ireland U20 World Cup wonder Thomas Farrell, 19, housed in the Leinster Academy.

O'Malley has been forced to retire from rugby, cutting short a contract often disrupted and now ended by injury – to his knee.

"At the age of 25, it is surreal to be reflecting on your career, especially when I hoped there were many more years ahead for me," he admitted.

"Having had a bit of time to reflect on this day coming I look back with real pride; firstly by getting into the Leinster Academy and then progressing up the ranks to a Leinster squad who would go on to have such a successful number of years.

"To have played a small part in my home province's success is something I dreamt about since I was a child and it will always mean an enormous amount to me. It was always a great honour to pull on the Leinster jersey and they are memories I will never forget."

O'Malley featured 54 times for Leinster, 40 as a starter, four times in the Heineken Cup, making a serious contribution to last season's failed attempt to make it three Heineken Cups on the spin.

He reached as far as winning three caps for the Irish Wolfhounds and was hell-bent on breaking into the international arena until his knee injury intervened.

"It is obviously an incredibly tough reality that I am still trying to come to terms with. After exhausting all options I am devastated to be retiring from the game," said O'Malley.



"Naturally, as with any long-term injury, you inevitably end up spending a lot of time with the physiotherapists, the strength and conditioning coaches, and the doctors, so I would like to say a particular thank you to them.

"People often refer to modern day sport as a ruthless and cut-throat environment but Leinster have without a doubt gone above and beyond in all aspects, doing everything they could in attempting to help me with my recovery."

Leinster Team Manager Guy Easterby was quick to recognise "Eoin's retirement is a significant loss to the squad.

"Not only is he a superb player with a huge amount of talent, he is also a great bloke who is well respected by both his fellow players and all the staff here at Leinster Rugby.

"He has been unfortunate in having a couple of serious injuries during his career, but he has always shown the utmost professionalism and he has been a real example to all of the players."

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