Paul O Connell Tribute
So Paul O Connell has had to admit defeat in his quest in trying to fight back from the hamstring injury suffered against France at the 2015 World Cup . He has announced his retirement from Rugby without playing a game for Toulon. He of course spent the majority of his career with Munster and captained them to Heineken Cup glory in 2008. He started out with Young Munster and cut his teeth in the All Ireland League and credits this time with them for turning into the player he went onto become.
He was a leader and this was evident as he was a captain for each team he was involved with , Captaining Ireland between 2013 and 2015 , He was Munster captain between 2008 and 2013. He was the Lions captain in 2009 down in South Africa. He was of course more than just and leader , he was an inspiration to all that played with him over the year’s. He was one of those rare players in sport that no matter what they did or said you would follow them into the trenches.
He presented the jerseys to the Munster Under 18 Club side in Thomond Park and to see parents and players fixed and engrossed in what Paul was saying was a thrilling moment , not many people have that special ability to hold a room for the whole of the time they are speaking but Paul was one such person.
He of course was famous for rousing speeches and saying the right thing at the correct moment and firing a team up before a game or at half time , everyone remembers his speech before Ireland faced France when he famously said “ Did You Put The Fear Of God Into Anyone” This is only one example of what sort of a character he was. He also gave some memorable post-match interviews , namely for Munster after the quarter final in the Heineken Cup against Harlequins where all of the players were questioned and he said “ He was so proud of each player , he almost felt like an amateur rugby player”.
He of course was also able to have a game changing impact by making a huge hit on most notably Sebastian Chabal for Munster against Sale in 2006 and for Ireland in 2014 against Australia with the match winning tackle on Ben Mc Calman when he picked him up and drove him backwards.
Paul O Connell will never be seen again and it was a pleasure to say that I saw him on a number of occasions over the last 14 years , whether it was in the Red of Munster or the Green of Ireland. It was a real pleasure to watch him pick off the oppositions line out.
He is a real legend of Rugby Union that commanded the respect of players across the globe and will be severely missed by all who soldiered with him through his career whether that was with Young Munster , Munster , Ireland or The Lions.
Paul , enjoy your retirement and thank you for all the memories….
Cian Mc Gibney