Thursday 29 September 2016

Ger Gilroy: Unfair ending a product of Paul O'Connell's own bravery

Ger Gilroy

Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30

Paul O'Connell. Photo: Getty
Paul O'Connell. Photo: Getty

The stand-out memory of the World Cup analysis for me was when Trevor Hogan explained Paul O'Connell's injury against France.

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Hogan detailed how O'Connell's body was positioned in an extremely dangerous spot, stretching every sinew of his giant frame - beyond breaking - to thwart the opposition in a role that practically no other second-row attempted. If he was a squat hooker or centre, his position over the ball would have been expected but second-rows?

No. His point was that O'Connell was backing up his words with actions above and beyond. A captain. Showing reckless abandon for his own health, making himself a giant target but killing opposition ball. A match winner.

His retirement seems unfair now, an unjust end to one of the great careers in Irish sport.

I don't feel any sympathy for Toulon and their oddball owner or even their amazing fans; no the sympathy is for O'Connell (below) losing a couple of years of sun on his back and also for the rest of us that we never get to see him play on the greatest club team of all time.

We can only speculate what that experience would have done for his rugby brain.

It also casts his time in Munster in amber, protects it for generations to come and makes their current difficulties all the more pronounced.

There'll never now be footage of him in an unusual red, with garish sponsors, as he passes to a globetrotter team-mate. Pity.

Irish Independent

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