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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 18 September, 2014

5 Irish players forced to retire from pro rugby far, far too early

It’s a brutal game and the provinces were severely weakened by the early departure of these five players.

EVERY RUGBY PLAYER knows that the game carries inherent risks. It’s a sport that can be physically brutal and, these days, no professional player seems able to get through a season without injury or a career without surgery.

However, the hope for most is that they can survive and thrive in the game long enough to make a living out of it. And then, when you’re over 30 and slowing down, you can move on to the next challenge. 

Here are five men who weren’t quite fortunate enough to make the landmark. 

Stephen Ferris

Today, two months shy of his 29th birthday, Ulster’s powerful flanker was forced to call time after an injury-plagued 18-months.

Stephen Ferris with Jimmy McRae

Ferris pictured this year with Rally legend Jimmy McRae.

Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

Ian Dowling

The nimble Kilkenny wing had made himself a mainstay of the Munster flanks before being forced out of action with a hip injury with 98 caps to his name.

Ian Dowling goes off injured at half time

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Eoin O’Malley

Perhaps the most promising would-be successor to the Leinster number 13 jersey, O’Malley suffered cruciate ligament damage in the 2012 Pro12 semi-final against Glasgow Warriors – a week out form the Heineken Cup final – and retired last year at the age of 24.

Gordon D'Arcy and Eoin O'Malley

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Simon Best

The low point of the 2007 World Cup was not the loss to France or hanging on for a narrow win over Georgia, it was the heart scare that forced prop Simon Best out of rugby.

Former captain Simon Best

Source: PRESSEYE/INPHO

Barry Murphy

The rise of Hermitage Green means that Murphy is still in the limelight, but as Munster’s outside centre Murphy looked destined to do great things on the big stage until a knee injury signalled the beginning of the end.

Barry Murphy runs in to score a try

Source: Cathal Noonan

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