Ronan looks to the future after injury ends career

Niall Ronan is to focus on the exact reason he had to retire from professional rugby to embellish the next stage of his working life — injury.

Ronan looks to the future after injury ends career

The Ireland flanker, with 104 provincial and four Irish caps garnered in a very decent career — with seven years spent in Munster — has succumbed to a knee problem, an announcement made by Munster yesterday.

Ronan is soon to return to Drogheda and set up a business in strength and conditioning coaching, having achieved a BA recently with Setanta College.

“It will be in the line of work I’ve studied for, but (I’ll be) focusing on injury rehabilitation.

“I believe my experience as a professional rugby player will help me in this regard, and I am looking forward to supporting my old club, Boyne, from the sidelines, going back to where it all began as such,” he said yesterday.

Having failed to shake off the knee problem sustained in Munster training back in October, Ronan went for surgery but has since been advised an unexpectedly bad response to his post-op rehabilitation offered no future playing prospects.

Whilst his forced decision to retire was tinged with considerable regret, he paid tribute to a number of who helped him enjoy what he described as a great lifetime experience.

“It has been a huge honour for me to play with such a great team for the past seven years. I’m very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play with Munster and I truly enjoyed the experience.

“I would like to thank the supporters, staff, team-mates and people of Munster for my time here. I thank my family, friends and former clubs that I played with for all their help and support throughout my career.”

Meanwhile, another of Munster’s experienced players has been singled out for praise — and by a youngster at that.

Emerging prop forward James Cronin, 23, made much of the contribution from number eight James Coughlan — one of three players nationwide nominated for an upcoming IRUPA award, that of “Unsung Hero”.

Coughlan hasn’t been as lucky as the now officially retired Ronan and remains uncapped, but Cronin is in no doubt Coughlan would be well worth a cap.

At least, in relation to Munster’s Heineken Cup semi-final defeat by Toulon, Cronin figures Coughlan is one of the greats.

“I trust the lads 1-15 with me. I wouldn’t swap any of them. They (Toulon) can have their big names in there but we’re Munster born and bred and that is the way going forward. Just look at our pack. They (Toulon) had international caps all over the place and look at Chucks (Coughlan), our number eight.

“Would you have swapped number eights (with Steffon Armitage)? I wouldn’t have on Sunday. I don’t think that comes into it but we don’t fear (with troops like Coughlan) any pack.”

Cronin was back to make his 25th appearance after a recent ankle injury sustained shortly before the quarter-final win over Toulouse. He suffered no ill effects in his short time on the pitch at Marseille, but he would have preferred a different outcome.

“It was my first game back and the ankle is fine, but while it’s good to be back, I’d prefer it to have been in different circumstances.

“In reality, we left one (win) behind. We’re Munster rugby and it’s all about winning.

“Nothing else is going to cut it for us you know, semi-finals aren’t good enough, it’s as simple as that.”

Talk is that next year’s changed European Cup format will favour cash rich teams like Toulon and some of the English heavyweights, but Cronin doesn’t agree that Munster will be disadvantaged.

“I think we have a very good squad. We have the squad to do it. We just have to park it, learn from it and come back stronger. We still have a Rabo to chase.

“There’s two games left in the season, we need to get to the semis home or away and we’ve just got to go after it now. It’s not about being nice, we have to win.”

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