Leinster wing Barry Daly has announced his retirement from the professional game to pursue further education, calling time on his career at the age of 27.
Daly has stepped away from rugby after two injury-hampered years during which he was sidelined by significant knee problems. He made 36 appearances and 19 tries for Leinster.
Daly will now travel stateside to continue his education, pursuing a Masters degree in Business.
“It was a combination of things, the knee, two years of injuries, I got the opportunity to study abroad. I’ve got a scholarship to study in Boston for two years, I’m doing an MBA there,” he told Leinster’s website.
“I didn’t really know for sure until towards the end of my injury rehab. I was coming back, looking to play and the whole pandemic was just kicking off then.
“Thankfully, Ella McCabe (Rugby Players Ireland) had been on my case hard the last couple of years with all the injury time to prepare for after rugby and she put me on to this scholarship.
“I actually got that fairly shortly after the whole lockdown kicked off so that was pretty much the decision made for me. I wasn’t able to play for Leinster anymore and I’d gotten this incredible opportunity to go and study in Boston College.”
The former Gonzaga College student says he will miss the competitive environment that is Leinster HQ but is happy in the knowledge that he was able to proudly represent the club he grew up supporting.
“You’re missing the changing room, missing the craic that everyone has, the way that everyone works so hard together and puts the effort in,” he said.
“I’ll miss being in such a high performance environment where everyone’s so locked in to one singular goal, the way that Stuart (Lancaster) and Leo (Cullen) lead the lads. Pretty much everyone has the same experience as an equal part of that group, that work ethic.
Barry Daly unlucky that injury deprived him of a single Leinster appearance in 2019/20.
Was top try-scorer in the PRO14 in 2017/18 with 12 tries and is still only 27.
Always remember this touch of class! pic.twitter.com/Q40rDFJZpj
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) June 25, 2020
“I don’t think it’s something that any other club in the world has. Stuart talks about how the difference over here is that everyone gets to play for the club that they grew up supporting and the area that they’re from. It’s such a unique characteristic that nowhere else in the world has, maybe only the other provinces in Ireland.
“Leinster is special, the way we’ve won so much as well. It’s just such a privilege to be able to play for the team that I supported growing up, to play with the lads I played with, and to be coached by the people that I was coached by.”
Daly finished by paying tribute to some of the people who were instrumental in allowing him a ‘second chance’ at a professional rugby career.
“Noel (McNamara), obviously, for getting me going, he was the one who put my name in Leo’s mind I think first to give me a chance, or to have a look at me. And Leo for having such an open mind, because it wasn’t really something that was done too often, giving lads chances out of the AIL,” he added.
“Everyone really, the players, the coaches, the supporters, I’ve had such an incredible experience for four years. It’s something that I’ll always cherish.
“My Dad and my Mum for supporting me so much. I have a funny photo of my Mum giving me a hug and a kiss after my first game. The support that they gave me, especially in that time when I was trying to decide whether to give up the job with KPMG and go on trial, they got me to go for it and back myself. I can’t thank them enough for that.”