Donnacha Ryan and Francis Saili played their last match for Munster on Saturday - the pair are pictured with Keith Earls and his daughter Ella May at Thomond Park recently. Photo: Bridget Delaney
Donnacha Ryan’s Munster career came to a disappointing end on Saturday evening when Rassie Erasmus’ side were beaten 46-22 by the Scarlets in the Guinness Pro12 final at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
The Pro12 final marked the end of the Nenagh man’s thirteen-year career with the province - the 33-year-old was not afforded a centralized contract by the IRFU and although Munster Rugby offered Donnacha Ryan an opportunity to continue playing with the province the lock forward could not turn down an offer to join French side Racing 92. It is understood that Donnacha Ryan has committed to a two-year deal with the Top 14 outfit.
Donnacha Ryan, born and bred in Nenagh, starred in Ireland’s first-ever win (40-29) over the New Zealand All Blacks in a test played at Soldier Field, Chicago in November. Ryan has won 47 international caps since making his debut against Argentina in 2008 and played 167 in competitive games for Munster - Donnacha won the Munster player of the year award in 2012.
The former Nenagh Éire Óg, Nenagh Celtic and Nenagh Ormond RFC player went to school at Nenagh CBS. Indeed, Donnacha Ryan has often cited Nenagh Ormond’s Pat Whelan as being a key influence on his career.
Donnacha represented Ireland at under-18 and under-21 level, won the Heineken Cup with Munster in 2008 and won a Celtic League with the province in 2009 and 2011. Donnacha Ryan also featured at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups for Ireland.
Following a nasty foot injury Donnacha Ryan was advised to retire from professional rugby in 2014, but the lock forward worked his way back to full fitness and reappeared in the Munster jersey in March 2015.
The manner in which Donnacha Ryan fought back from that debilitating injury captures the defining characteristic of the Nenagh man: grit. Indeed, during Ryan’s recuperation from injury Donnacha also studied geology by night in University College Cork.
Donnacha Ryan is the son of Matt and Patricia Ryan and has three older sisters, Joanne, Isabel and Emma.