PRIDE in the parish. Munster flanker Niall Roan played his first game for three months when turning in an eye-catching display for Shannon in their crucial All-Ireland League Division 1A victory over Old Belvedere at Thomond Park on Saturday.
Ronan may he hoping that he will be wearing the red of Munster the next time he runs out at the venue, but the 30-year-old certainly gave his all for ‘the Parish’ side in his return from injury last weekend.
The last 13 months have been hugely frustrating for Ronan. A serious knee injury followed by an issue with his neck, just three games into his comeback, has meant he has curtailed to just three, the number of appearances the dynamic back-row has made for Munster during Rob Penney’s tenure as head coach.
Ronan admitted: “The game with Shannon was the first 80 minutes I have played in three months.
“Before that, I played two and a half games in maybe a year. It has been a long and frustrating 13 months for me.
“But it’s part and parcel of the job and hopefully that is my run of injuries gone now.
“I felt rusty at times. It was good to get the 80 minutes under the belt. Hopefully, the next time I play it will be easier.
“Most recently I had a ligament tear in my neck which I didn’t realise at the time. That is a three month injury, a grade two ligament tear. You have to be careful. That’s the way it goes.
“For me, I have played rugby for 10 seasons. For the first nine years, I rarely got injured. For the last 13 months I can’t stop so it is new to me. When I did my ACL (cruciate knee ligament in January 2012) it was very frustrating because I was happy with the way I was playing. I had been starting all the Heineken Cup games and then you are out for eight months. But that is the way it goes. It is frustrating.
“It is very frustrating looking on. For me, I take pride in my fitness and I try and train as hard as I possibly can, Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, there is no reward at the end of the week with a game.
“I will speak to Rob (Penney) and see what he thinks the next step in my comeback should be.
“He has only seen me play two and a half games in the time he has been at Munster. I have been injured all the time. I am training hard and we’ll see what happens.
While Ronan has been sidelined from playing for over the best part of a year, he has kept busy by doing a degree course in strength and conditioning with Setanta College.
Ronan said: “I am in college and I am doing a bit of strength and conditioning with a couple of teams. That keeps me going. I am doing a degree in strength and conditioning with Setanta College. I have four modules to go.
“Myself and Eugene McGovern, who was involved with Munster, are doing personal training classes. It is good experience.”
Ronan’s absence from the Munster side has corresponded with the emergence of several new faces in the back-row, including Sean Dougall, CJ Stander and Tommy O’Donnell.
He appreciates that the battle for places in Munster’s starting line-up will be keen in the weeks and months ahead.
Ronan said: “There is a lot of competition all across the back-row. Lads are putting their hands up for selection. Hopefully, if I get my chance, I can prove that I am as good as the other guys.
“You have to play games. When I play week in and week out, you want to do your best.”
The former Leinster player, who is in line to make his 100th appearance for Munster later this season, was delighted to play his part in Shannon’s crucial success against Old Belvedere at the weekend.
“It is great to be back,” Ronan enthused.
“Shannon are a very historic club and that is the reason I joined. They have won nine AILs.
“People in the club are excellent and it was great to be able to help them out. Thankfully we got the win. We are still in the hunt to stay up.
“It was nice to get the try. It was a tap-in! Shiner (John Shine) did well on the wing. It was easy from there. Hopefully we can build on this for next week against Cork Con.”
“It was a must-win game. We had to win. The lads dug deep.”
And as for Munster? “There are a few huge Rabo games coming up and then the Heineken Cup quarter-final with Quins away which is a massive game,” he said.
“If you get the opportunities in the meantime, there maybe a chance of selection for that. We will see what happens.”