Monday 25 September 2017

Ulster ace Wallace hangs up boots with no regrets

Paddy Wallace
Paddy Wallace
David Kelly

David Kelly

AFTER letting the news slip informally at last week's IRUPA awards, Ulster's record caps holder Paddy Wallace has confirmed his retirement.

It is hoped that he will be remembered for being one of the most gifted ball-players this island has ever produced, rather than the ramshackle end to his international career.

Drafted from a beach holiday having not held a ball in weeks, Wallace suffered the indignity of enduring the Hamilton horror, a 60-0 capitulation in 2012, marking the end of a 30-cap career.

In 2009, though, he was an integral part of Declan Kidney's Grand Slam-winning squad, predominantly edging Gordon D'Arcy from the fray, although he will also be forever remembered for conceding the late penalty that almost cost Ireland victory in the final moments against Wales.

Always committed, Wallace suffered the brunt of many injuries on international duty; he was a typical play-making second centre, a dying breed, rather than a "bosh" merchant.

It could be argued that Ireland – and at times Ulster – never consistently managed to eke out the entire range of his wondrous passing ability and supreme vision.

With Ulster, he was part of the team that won the Celtic Cup in 2003 and the squad that won the Magners League in 2006 in a career spanning 13 seasons.

Aged 34, Wallace suffered a serious knee ligament injury and, after an abortive comeback against Zebre in December, he recently conceded defeat in his personal battle to reach 200 caps.

"Professional rugby is all I have known for the past 14 years. I am going to miss playing at Ravenhill, the fans and everything involved with being a rugby player. I have had a great career and I wouldn't change anything for the world."

Irish Independent

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