Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eoin O’Malley

Allow me to add to the tributes pouring in for career of the Leinster centre…

Eoin O'Malley photo

This photo was taken at the Leinster Open Training session in Tallaght Stadium in July 2011.  I posted it on the HoR Facebook page along with the caption : “The photographer had to be told this was Eoin O'Malley. I have a feeling in a couple of years everyone will know his name.”

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Brian O’Driscoll will never be “replaced”, we all know that.

However, of all the worthy successors to his 13 jumper, if we had to select one that played the game in a manner closest to that of the 4-time Lion, it would most definitely be Eoin O’Malley.

For Leinster to have had so much success over the past few years, having a solid defence has been worth a converted try or more in every game. 

At the heart of that system lies the outside centre, who along with his 12 must not only read the opposition at every phase, but also be able to see a few phases ahead because in a game of tight margins just one foot planted at the wrong time can be the difference between a bone-crunching tackle and a broken line potentially leading to a score.

Eoin O’Malley’s opportunities have been limited by injuries over the past season or two, but when he was on the park it was clear to see that he was not merely at the RDS to fill in when BOD was away, he was also there to learn from him.

To choose just one of his fine performances for Leinster I would go for our Heineken Cup win over Glasgow in November 2011.  He not only kept the Warriors offence at bay that day but also helped himself to two tries and prompted me to use the headline “Brian Who?” for my writeup.

Sadly, sport can be as cruel as it can be rewarding.  25 is far, far too young to be forced to retire, but if there’s one thing I know about the Irish rugby family, he will have plenty of options to make the most out of whatever he chooses to do with his future career.

I reckon I can safely say that every Irish rugby fan, coach & player, from the grounds of Belvedere College all the way to the training pitches at Carton House, wishes him all the best. JLP

 

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