RONAN O’GARA was granted the Freedom of Cork, a signal honour that dates from the 14th century.
He joins a roll-call of luminaries that have included Dean Swift, Charles Stewart Parnell and US President John F Kennedy. He also joins sports stars such as Sonia O’Sullivan, Roy Keane and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, among the finest the city has to offer.
O’Gara is blessed with not just a prodigious talent but also an engaging personality and a youthful countenance. He celebrated his 40th birthday in March but looks at least five years younger.
He has given rugby fans some glorious moments over the years, from his magnificent try for Munster in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulouse in the millennium year, to the stunning drop goal he calmly executed to secure Ireland a Grand Slam victory in 2009, our first in 61 years.
O’Gara scored 2,625 points for Munster between 1997 and 2013. On retiring from professional rugby, he was Ireland’s all-time leading points scorer with 1,083 points, the Six Nations leading points scorer and the most capped player in Heineken Cup history. He has now taken his leadership skills to France, as a coach with Racing Metro 92 in Paris.
But it is not just his playing skills that have endeared him to the nation. ROG, as he is fondly known to friends and fans, is a formidable role model for young people, living testament to what hard work, dilligence and endurance can achieve.
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