Niall Ronan on going from a rugby career-ending injury to a successful comeback on the GAA field

Ex-Ireland, Leinster and Munster flanker has returned to sport after what had been a career-ending knee injury

Niall Ronan,

Niall Ronan in 2013 ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

In April 2014, former Ireland, Leinster and Munster player Niall Ronan was forced to retire from rugby due to a knee injury.

During his career, the now 34-year-old won four Ireland caps and was part of the Munster side which defeated Leinster in the old Magners League Grand Final.

But two and a half years on from his retirement from rugby, he has made a return to the pitch. But it's in a different sport with a round ball rather than an oval one.

The Co Meath native has been lining out with St Colmcilles GAA in his home county and has helped the side to victory in the Meath and Leinster Intermediate Football Championship.

Even before making it as a professional in rugby, Gaelic football was where his heart lay originally.

"It was my first love to be honest with you," he told Off The Ball

"From the age of nine, I played Gaelic from Monday to Sunday. I loved it and my dream was to play for Meath and my best memories were watching Meath in Croke Park winning All-Irelands.

"GAA's the No 1 sport that I love and my dream was to come back and play ball. I didn't know if it was going to happen but thankfully it's ended in a good way."  

Ronan also talked about the 2013 injury that eventually led to his retirement from rugby at the age of 31.

"I went to training in Cork on the Thursday before a Heineken Cup game against Gloucester and I was just up in a line out and whatever way I landed on my knee, I never played rugby again after that training session. It was a cartilage issue and it was ongoing. I tried to rehab it and then I had my operation. It was that bad I had to retire unfortunately. Luckily enough I was able to come back and play Gaelic after the whole event." 

In the first year after the injury, he hadn't expected to be able to come back to playing sport but was able to ease himself back into then when it came to sparking a career in GAA.