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Where are they now?: Niall Ronan



THEN – Niall earned 37 caps for Leinster over four seasons (2003-2007). 

NOW – The Managing Director of Titan Wellness is living in Meath with his wife Jaimie and two children Lily (6) and Felix (3).

Niall Ronan owes Leinster a debt of gratitude for how it prepared the flanker for the professional game.

In fairness, the Meathman was turned from a bundle of raw energy into a valuable commodity at Munster where he spent seven seasons, becoming a centurion and even grabbing four caps for his country.

“GAA has been my life. It was all I ever wanted. I would have played Meath U14s, U16s and two years at minor. At that point, my goal was to play for my county,” he says.

“Rugby didn’t really register with me. I played for Boyne Rugby, amalgamated from Drogheda and Delvin rugby clubs. It only hit my radar at 17 when I was called up for the Leinster Youths.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what the Leinster Youths were at the time,” he declares.

What caused such a drastic change of course, the dream shifting from Meath in Croke Park to Leinster at The RDS?

“The professionalism of rugby really opened my eyes to a career in which you could get paid to play and travel the world,” he says.

“A big turning point was when I got picked for Ireland to play in the U19 World Cup in Chile, a new experience.”

It was around then that Niall came into contact with Collie McEntee, the former Lansdowne and Leinster number eight, a fellow loose forward and Steve Aboud, an outside-the-box thinker with a drill sergeant attitude to discipline.

“The detail in the coaching was also an attraction. It was a lot better than it was in the GAA. I didn’t know where the journey would take me. But, I knew I wanted to go on it.

“Two years later, I went in blind. I would have known Brian O’Driscoll But, I didn’t know many of the players.

“When you are training with those international players, you soon get to know all about what they can do and you learn so much from the more experienced players.”

He was offered his first part-time contract with Leinster after impressing at the U21 World Cup, turning down a full-time deal to move West to Connacht.

In that first season, Australian Gary Ella came in as head coach. Niall ended up playing the last six or seven matches of the season due to injuries to Keith Gleeson and Shane Jennings, enough to earn Young Player of the Year. That was my highest moment there.

“It was a dream come true really. I was playing with a team of internationals. You had Felipe Contepomi, Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie and Girvan Dempsey.

In the forwards, there was Malcolm O’Kelly, Victor Costello, Eric Miller, who I would have looked up to then, Shane Byrne.”

A breakthrough season brought the promise of greater things to come. Afterall, the kid from nowhere had become a name on the lips of so many.

The lack of top-quality rugby in his early teenage years left the impression of a higher ceiling than many of those around him. It never really turned out that way for a multitude of reasons.

“In my time there, I had four different coaches in four seasons. You had Gary Ella. You Declan Kidney – he left early. You had Gerry Murphy in an interim role. You had Michael Cheika.

“I had Keith Gleeson and Shane Jennings ahead of me. I learned a lot during a frustrating four seasons. I feel a lot of gratitude towards Leinster for how they moulded me from a raw player to a professional.

“When a new coach comes in, he will have his opinion on the way he wants to play and the players in his squad. You have to build trust and sometimes change their opinion of what you can offer.

“When they go, someone else comes in. That happened every season I was there and it became harder to generate continuity, especially when there are internationals ahead of you in the queue. That is how it was. That is professional sport.”

“There was a lot of chopping and changing. It was challenging for me because I wasn’t at the same level I reached later on in my career at Munster.

“You have to accept the challenge and go about proving people wrong. That was the mindset for most of my career.”

He went on to nurture tremendous friendships with Kieran Potts, Simon Crawford, John Lyne and Gary Brown.

At the end of three years, Cheika shared the fact Ulster and Connacht were interested in his signature. He turned those down.

At the end of four years, Jennings had resigned with Leinster from Leicester Tigers. There was no contract on the table for Niall. There was no choice. He had to leave Leinster.

At 24, he had no interest in moving to the second tier in England. He was in limbo, seriously considering retiring from rugby.

Then, Declan Kidney came calling with a contract for Munster. Now, Niall had not been selected by Kidney in his short stint at Leinster. There was no guarantee of playing time.

“If you have a choice between retiring and playing for Munster, the top club in European Rugby at the time, what do you do? You sign for Munster.

“It turned into a dream come true in my sevens seasons there. My career went on an upward curve and I played four times for Ireland.”

In a strange way, Leinster had taken Niall on as a late bloomer, provided an apprenticeship, fast-tracked his talent, coached him up to be ready to produce his best at Munster.

“Leinster is a totally different place now to what it was then. I am sure the players would agree on that,” states Niall..

“There was dysfunction, coaches and players coming in and out. There was no chance to build anything.

“I would be the first to admit that the first four or five seasons of your career are the most important, in terms of getting where you want to get to whether it is playing international rugby or at the highest club level for a long time.

“My time was a great experience. I loved every minute of it. But, when you don’t play, you get frustrated.”

In 2014, Niall walked away from the game courtesy of a knee injury. He had been smart enough to complete a degree in Strength & Conditioning and all his coaching badges.

He set up his own company Titan Wellness, described on its’ website as “Ireland’s largest

fitness facilities management company and wellness service provider.”

He also returned to his first love, working for three years as head of S&C for Andy McEntee’s Meath senior footballers.

“What I took from rugby was how to be disciplined, how to work hard, how to communicate and collaborate with people,” he says.

“When I retired, I set up a company called Titan Wellness to provide workplace well-being solutions to corporates all over Ireland.

“That means we go into businesses to support them in creating a positive environment where productivity improves by having fitness classes or educational talks on sleep, nutrition or desktop massage to reward people for their work.

“It is the same as rugby where good feedback from a coach on how to work within a team helps to generate success.”

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby


Squad Update | Preparations Continue For Glasgow At Thomond



The Munster squad continued their training schedule at the HPC on Monday morning as preparations continue for Saturday evening’s vital URC clash against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park (5.15pm).

It is our final home game of the URC regular season with tickets available here.

See the state of play in the URC ahead of round 16 here.

On the senior international front, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray helped Ireland to a Grand Slam-clinching victory over England in Dublin on Saturday.

Tadhg Beirne, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley and Dave Kilcoyne also featured during the successful campaign. Joey Carbery, Gavin Coombes, Keith Earls and Roman Salanoa were part of the squad at different stages over the past two months.

Ben Healy made his Scotland debut as a replacement on Saturday, steering the team to victory over Italy at Murrayfield.

Academy player Ruadhán Quinn (Old Crescent) and fellow Munster men Brian Gleeson (Garryowen) and Danny Sheahan (UCC) helped the Ireland U20s to their second Grand Slam in-a-row with a victory over England at Musgrave Park on Sunday. Gleeson picked up his second Player of the Match award of the campaign after another excellent display.

Academy man Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemian) and Jacob Sheahan (UCC) also featured over the campaign with Academy player Jack Oliver (Garryowen) and Conall Henchy (DUFC) part of the squad.

Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Jack Crowley, Dave Kilcoyne, Roman Salanoa and Ben Healy have returned to training at the HPC ahead of Munster v Glasgow.

Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray are on a down week after both playing in all five games of Ireland’s 6 Nations campaign and will return to the HPC next week.

There is good news on the injury front for Tom Ahern (shoulder) and Mike Haley (ankle) as they both return to full team training this week.

On the Academy front, there is a similarly positive injury update for Edwin Edogbo (ankle) as he also returns to full team training.

Continuing to rehab: Niall Scannell (shoulder), Liam Coombes (thigh), Jeremy Loughman (thigh), Keith Earls (calf), Tadhg Beirne (ankle), Liam O’Connor (neck), Chris Moore (neck), Eoin O’Connor (shoulder), Paddy Kelly (head), Jack Daly (knee), Andrew Conway (knee).


URC Round 16 – Saturday, March 25

Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Munster Rugby Unveil Plans For Limerick Centre of Excellence



Munster Rugby have submitted a planning application to Limerick City and County Council for the development of a new sports facility in Rosbrien, Limerick.

The proposed new facility would be built primarily for Munster’s underage and development sides, and the surrounding community with local clubs, schools and community groups set to benefit.

Incorporated into the plan is an indoor full-size pitch; a state-of-the-art artificial full-size pitch and grass training pitch, both of which will be floodlit; a gym; clubhouse and administration building. The proposal also makes provision for an amenity walkway, greenspace, secure bicycle parking and limited parking.

This development is hailed as a major expansion of the sports facilities available to the grassroots game and the sporting community across the province, and it will be available for use to a wide range of clubs, schools, and organisations in the region and beyond.

The province, with a base for the elite game at the High Performance Centre in the University of Limerick, is already progressing with a Centre of Excellence in Musgrave Park with work to commence later this year, and last year partnered with Fethard Town Park in establishing a Regional Centre of Excellence.

Commenting on the exciting plans, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “We are always looking to develop our infrastructure across the province in ensuring we can develop and resource our grassroots game leading to further participation in sport.

“This is an ongoing strategic objective of ours and we believe a facility such as this, in the heartland of Limerick, will hugely benefit the local clubs and schools and ensure young people have access to world class facilities.

“The plans we are submitting will not only benefit rugby, but this development will also improve the sporting and recreational facilities available to the surrounding community and we are hopeful of a positive planning outcome.”

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Squad Update | Preparations Begin For Glasgow At Thomond



The Munster team have started preparations for our URC round 16 clash against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, March 25, at Thomond Park (5.15pm).

You can purchase a Family Pack of four tickets for €40 with adult tickets from €20 available here.

Fourth-placed Glasgow are two points and one place ahead of Munster in the URC table.

See the state of play in the race for the URC play-offs here.

There were four Munster players in action for Ireland and the Ireland U20s in Scotland at the weekend with both sides aiming to win a Grand Slam on home soil next weekend.

Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray started for the Ireland senior men as they won at Murrayfield to make it four wins from four ahead of Ireland v England in Dublin next Saturday (5pm).

Player of the Match Ruadhán Quinn and Evan O’Connell were the Munster Academy members in action for the Ireland U20s along with fellow Munster men Brian Gleeson and Danny Sheahan. Quinn scored a hat-trick of tries and Sheahan also touched down.

Their Grand Slam decider against England at Musgrave Park takes place on Sunday at 5pm with the game selling out weeks in advance.

In player news, it was confirmed last week that Malakai Fekitoa will join Benetton at the end of the season on completion of his Munster contract.

French club Oyonnax have announced the signing of Chris Farrell after the centre departed the province earlier this month.

Final Home Game Of Regular Season

Saturday, March 25

URC Round 16: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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