Sunday 17 November 2019

'I want to see if there is something else out there that excites me'

Ronan O'Mahony's playing career has come to an abrupt end but the Limerick man is keen to stay involved in rugby

Ronan O’Mahony training with Munster in February. Photo: Sportsfile
Ronan O’Mahony training with Munster in February. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

A few weeks short of his 30th birthday, Ronan O'Mahony arrived at a surprise crossroads in his life. Told his professional rugby career had come to an end due to an ankle injury sustained a year earlier, it was time to start planning for the 'real world' as life after the game is often labelled.

Except in O'Mahony's eyes the 'real world' still revolves around rugby. He holds a business degree from UL and has also completed his QFA financial advisory exams recently, but instead of getting comfortable behind an office desk, the Garryowen club man still has an itch to scratch on the rugby field.

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"I have my qualifications there, but I want to try a couple of different things and see what I like.

"I want to see if there is something out there that excites me, something I'd enjoy going to every morning that will put a smile on my face every time I wake up.

"That's the plan to try to find something that will do that for me," says O'Mahony, who scored 21 tries in 70 games for his native Munster.

"I'd like to stay in the game in some regards. Everyone I have met over the time since I've retired, everyone keeps saying that I have to go into the real world now, but I don't know, I might have a different view on that.

"I think I am in the real world. I was enjoying what I was doing every day and the plan now is to try and find something that I can enjoy and I can adapt to the same way I did with my rugby career. It probably won't be playing rugby but it could be maybe coaching it or something else.

"I'll try a few different things and hopefully I can find out what that is over the next while."

After such a devastating blow, letting go of that Munster dream must have been really difficult, but O'Mahony seems determined to be a success when he takes his next step in rugby.

He has already jumped in at the deep end and helped out with the Munster schools and clubs teams this summer, while he has put his hand up at Garryowen to help out wherever he is needed.

"Over the summer working with the Munster schools and clubs teams during their festival in UL was brilliant. I was working with their backs and then doing skills for the whole squad. We put in eight or ten weeks altogether.

"It was really enjoyable and great to see it from a coaching point of view. I have always been a player receiving coaching orders so it was nice to see it from the other side.

"These lads are all at provincial level so they are all decent players, but you cannot give them too much information and overload them either.

"It was a bit of a challenge for me to find that balance but over the couple of weeks I saw a massive growth in them."

Restricted

The complications of his major ankle injury mean O'Mahony is still restricted in the exercise he can undertake and he will undergo surgery again around Christmas time. He is enjoying being able to play golf again, while he has also discovered a love of crossfit, which has kept him agile.

And while he juggles his options going forward, his brother Barry has been a huge help and sounding board for Ronan.

Barry, a former Munster player himself, went through a similar break-up with the province in 2015 when his contract wasn't renewed, and Ronan was thankful for his advice throughout the process.

"He has been unbelievable, he gave me a lot of guidance. He has been there, he has more or less done it twice.

"He was in the academy, was let go and had to go off into the working world and then got brought back in and now he's back again in the working world.

"He was always planning ahead, even when I was playing he was always on to me to keep planning. He said if you're not sure what you are meant to do, make a list and if you try something you can tick it off. It's nearly like a process of elimination rather than trying to figure things out straight away."

Part of the Munster system since he debuted in 2009 while in the sub-academy, O'Mahony was schooled by some really progressive coaches, and looking in from the outside now, he is excited by the new regime in the province.

Playing under the likes of Stephen Larkham would have brought the best of out O'Mahony's flying wing skills, and he reckons the Australian will benefit from the work done by his predecessor, Felix Jones.

"I've never met him [Larkham] but what I've heard the lads are very impressed so far. He's just a coach with huge experience: he has 100 Test caps, he's an international coach and he'll be something different coming from the southern hemisphere, it's just a different voice.

"But Felix has laid a great foundation there in Munster and Larkham can come in and put his layers on top of that.

"Hopefully they'll have a great attacking platform to get the backs involved as well this season. What Munster already have which is a really good foundation."

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