A TROUBLESOME hip injury has forced Cork Church of Ireland and Ireland goalkeeper Mark Ruddle to prematurely retire from the game.
The 24-times capped netminder has been beset with hip problems in recent seasons, and has rarely featured for his beloved Garryduff club or in the green jersey.
Ruddle yesterday spoke of his “difficult decision” to quit the playing side of the game, though he should become a useful addition to the country’s goalkeeping coaches should he decide to go down that route.
“Following a recent hip operation I have had to make the difficult decision to retire from goalkeeping,” he said.
“Over the past number of years I have been fortunate enough to play on the international, Munster and Cork C of I teams, which has afforded me great opportunities and experiences. The coaching, management, physio and players’ support over the years with all teams have been immense and there are too many names to mention for thanks.”
Irish men’s coach Paul Revington said Ruddle was “a great role model” who would be surely missed.
“It is always a sad moment when a player retires from international hockey, it is a sadder moment when a player is forced to retire through injury,” added Revington.
Meanwhile, Munster champions C of I begin life without Ruddle with a potentially tricky trip to Bandon. Cork Harlequins B host Catholic Institute in what is an early six-pointer for last year’s bottom two sides.
A much-revamped UCC will give a raft of new signings, including Peter Catchpole, Malcolm Coombes, Brian Corcoran and Fionn O’Leary, their seasonal debuts in a Peard Cup quarter-final trip to C of I B.
Bandon’s visit to champions Cork Harlequins is the pick of the ties in the women’s league. The west Cork girls, now under the stewardship of John Dennis, have shocked Quins in recent seasons and come into this tie with confidence after starting with a draw at UCC last week.
College will hope to get a first win of the campaign under their belt when they visit newly-promoted Belvedere, while UL – thrashed 12-0 by Quins last week – have another unenviable task as they travel to free-scoring Catholic Institute.
Elsewhere, C of I’s visit to Ashton has the best potential for an upset, with the Garryduff side in transition after a swathe of summer departures.
The Leinster league campaign gets underway with a bang this weekend, with men’s standard bearers Pembroke Wanderers and Glenanne squaring off in Tallaght.
Glens have lost talisman Stephen Butler to Belgium but will fancy their chances against a new-look Pembroke, who have seen more than a half dozen of their Irish internationals head to foreign pastures.
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