Sport Rugby

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Where are they now?: Darragh O'Mahony (Former rugby player)

Former Ireland international winger Darragh O'Mahony was one of the first Irish players to come through the professional rugby system. He finished off his rugby career with Cork side Dolphin in 2006 and picked up his banking career where he'd parked it almost a decade before with Allied Irish Bank.

"Getting back into the working world was very difficult; it took a while to adjust to civilian life again. It was probably 12-18 months before I was back to normal," says O'Mahony.

"I was blessed that when I started playing it was still the amateur era. I had no choice but to attend university and go out and get a job when I'd finished. It stood to me coming out the other side of my career.

"I fear for the kids coming through now. It's going a little like football, they might not have too many options when it all ends and rugby is very harsh -- you are one injury away from having nothing."

O'Mahony's rugby career saw him play in Ireland and England, most notably with Leinster, Munster, Bedford Blues and Saracens.

"Playing for teams like Leinster and Saracens were two very different experiences. With Leinster, it was amateur and I felt that you were part of something, regardless of whether you were picked or not.

"Whereas in Saracens, it's a far more clinical exercise; if you are producing and you're in the team, you're part of the club but as soon as you stop you find yourself out on your ear fairly quickly.

"In Saracens, it was a professional game and I was aware that I was there to do a job. If I didn't do that, there was no sense of loyalty. During my time in Ireland I always felt like that element was there. It gave Irish sides the edge to go the extra yard when their backs were to the wall."

O'Mahony went on to earn four caps for Ireland, making his debut against Italy in Treviso in 1995. His greatest memories are playing for Ireland in the 1995 World Cup and getting head-hunted to play for Saracens. He retired from the professional game in 2004 at 31 years of age.

The Cork man now manages the Wembley branch of Allied Irish Bank in London and goes to as many Saracens games as he can.

But yesterday's match didn't divide his loyalties. Leinster had everything to play for and he was on their side 100 per cent.

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