A former Heineken Cup winner with Munster is looking for a very different type of success this weekend – a Cork Junior Football Championship medal.
Former Munster scrum-half and Cork minor hurler Tomas O’Leary is part of the Erin’s Own side who travel to Pairc Ui Rinn for the junior decider against Knocknagree.
O’Leary scored 0-03 from full forward in his first start in the county semi-final after re-joining the panel earlier this season.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, O’Leary spoke about his return to the GAA club who he represented as a youngster – and comparing the preparation of a county final to that of the Grand Slam with Ireland.
“It’s a different world. I’ve a strong GAA background and I’m going back to the club where it all started, and playing with three or four lads I was playing with since the age of 10 or 11.
“It’s not something that was overly planned – I’m only back playing football three or four weeks – so it’s all come about very quickly. But it’s been great to throw on the Erin’s Own jersey again.”
O’Leary spoke about how he has coped since retiring from professional rugby – and says he has no regrets about a 12-year career.
“It was something I was ready for and the adjustment has been good. I’ve no regrets about retirement. I got 12 years of professional rugby with top teams in Ireland, the UK and France.
“But my body wasn’t what it used to be even seven or eight years ago and professional rugby has taken its toll. Because football isn’t as physical, I can get away with playing it.
“I was lucky to get to 33 and be relatively intact. I was happy to get out of it when I did, happy with what I achieved and happy to play with a great Munster team.”
The Cork JFC final between Erin’s Own and Knocknagree throws in at 1.30pm on Sunday as O’Leary seeks to win a championship – and promotion – with his home club.
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena