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5 Irish Rugby Stars Forced Into Early Retirement By Injury

Ireland rugby has had to endure what can only be described as the mother and father of all injury lists for nearly 12 months now.

Last year’s Rugby World Cup saw Joe Schmidt having to work around a list that, by the time Ireland’s quarter final match against Argentina arrived, saw the likes of Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy Bowe, Cian Healy, Paul O’Connell and Jonathan Sexton all laid up with injuries ranging from torn hamstrings, to knee injuries, to concussions.

Fast forward to this year’s Six Nations and it was much the same. Just add Ulsterman Iain Henderson to the list.

With Ireland heading below the equator to take on South Africa next month, not a whole lot has changed. Henderson is back, Sexton also, though he is always at risk now of suffering further concussion injuries. Bowe, O’Mahony, Healy and O’Brien remain absent, with the latter two set for further prolonged spells out of the game due to their respective knee, neck and hamstring troubles.

Given the constant recurrence of issues that the two Leinster men have faced over the last two seasons, you might wonder if they will return at all or be forced into early retirement. It’s not unheard of, as the cases of these five Irish rugby stars will show.

Stephen Ferris

LIMERICK, IRELAND - APRIL 08: Stephen Ferris, of Ulster celebrates their victory during the Heineken Cup quarter final match between Munster and Ulster at Thomond Park on April 8, 2012 in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Probably Ireland’s greatest ever flanker, Ferris was a monster of a man. 6′ 4″ and over 17 stone, the Ulsterman could run like a winger and was insanely aggressive in the art of tackling. A true menace both in defence and attack, persistent ankle injuries took their toll, forcing Ferris out of the game in 2014.


Felix Jones

Fullback for Munster and Ireland, Jones was an exciting talent and often challenged Rob Kearney for the green no.15 jersey. Lethal in attack and assured under the high ball, a neck injury he suffered in 2015 saw Jones call time on a career that seemed destined for so much more.


Ian Dowling

Kilkenny man Dowling played almost 100 times on the wing for Munster, winning two Heineken Cup titles with the Limerick based side. A hip injury cut short his career back in 2011.


Jerry Flannery

The Galway native was part of the Munster dream team that won the Heineken Cup twice in 2006 and 2008. He was also Ireland’s hooker of choice through the second part of the last decade. Ravaged by calf injuries, Flannery was forced out of the game back in 2012.


Paul O’Connell

England v Ireland - International Match

Ireland and Munster’s talismanic captain, O’Connell is regarded as one of the finest ever locks to play the game. At the heart of every Munster and Ireland success of the last decade, the Limerick man was set to retire from international rugby following last year’s World Cup and take up a lucrative role with then European champions Toulon. A devastating hamstring injury suffered during Ireland’s domination of France in their final pool game saw the O’Connell carried from the field at half time.

It was to be his last ever game, as the injury suffered was career ending.

With so many top names having succumbed to injury over the last few years, there is the real possibility that new names could be added to it soon.

The importance of Ireland’s big names on the injury list cannot be over estimated and rugby fans will be hoping they all prove capable of continuing their careers in the same manner as we had grown so accustomed to.

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Author: The PA Team

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