Allow me to add to the tributes pouring in for career of the Leinster centre…
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.”
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
Tough decision to make for a young & talented player but best wishes to Eoin O'Malley on retiring #Chubs— Denis Hurley (@DenisHurley15) August 20, 2013
Gutted for Eoin O Malley, I'm gonna miss my next-door neighbour in the changing room big time, top player and top lad....— Sean Cronin (@SeanCronin2) August 20, 2013
Really gutted to see Eoin O'Malley hang up his boots today. Really talented player, and an all round great guy.— Mike Ross (@MikeRoss03) August 20, 2013
Terrible news about Eoin today. One of the best professionals in the squad and always a pleasure to play with. Massive loss to our squad.— Ian madigan (@Ian_madigan) August 20, 2013
We were all gutted and shocked when Eoin told us this morning he has been forced to retire. He is a huge loss to the club.— Kevin McLaughlin (@KMcLaughlin6) August 20, 2013
Sorry to see Eoin O Malley retire. Great young player and Top bloke. Be a loss to the game.— James Downey (@jamesdowney23) August 20, 2013
Sorry to see Leinster centre Eoin O'Malley having to retire at just 25. A very talented player who was an excellent Leader too #nextchapter— Bernard Jackman (@bernardjackman) August 20, 2013
So gutted for Eoin O'Malley, a great friend and such a talented rugby player. Was a pleasure to play alongside. #MassiveLoss— Fergus McFadden (@fergmcfadden) August 20, 2013
Such a shame to loose Eoin o Malley to Injury,shows how fickle sport is.. A great guy and an even better player.. What a loss!— Dave Kearney (@kearney_dave) August 20, 2013
Absolutely brutal to see Eoin O'Malley having to retire. Very clever player & a great man to have in your dressing room. #Massiveloss— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) August 20, 2013