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20th Sep 2023

‘This is not a sad story’ – Ian Madigan announces retirement with poignant essay

Patrick McCarry

“I could have done with you on some of the selection committees!”

Ian Madigan has announced that he must retire from rugby due to injury but has insisted ‘this is not a sad story’ in a poignant essay shared on Instagram.

The former Leinster, Ulster and Ireland star hangs up his boots after giving up the fight following a stretch of tough injury luck. The 34-year-old Dubliner played 31 times for Ireland, won two European Cups and two league titles with Leinster, and two Six Nations triumphs with his country.

Ian MadiganIan Madigan salutes the crowd with his hand on his heart after Ireland beat Frace at the 2015 World Cup. (Credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE)

Ian Madigan makes heartfelt retirement statement

‘Today I am announcing my retirement,’ begins the Ian Madigan retirement essay, on Instagram.

The post, stretching 10 slides and featuring pictures and memories from across his sporting career, pays thanks and tribute to his friends, family, old teachers, mentors and coaches.

Writing about mini rugby, he jokes, ‘All that matters was how many tries I scored, the Monster Munch and Cadet red lemonade would send me to the moon!’

He writes touchingly about Alan MacGinty, from his days at Blackrock College, and his consoling words after missing a crucial kick in a Leinster Schools Cup game. Moving on, he thanks Leinster for helping him ‘fulfil my dreams’ for eight trophy-laden seasons. He also mentions his time at Bordeaux and Bristol before thanking all at Ulster, notably coach Dan McFarland.

‘I am proud to call myself an Ulsterman and look forward to living in Belfast for the foreseeable.’

Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan on his granddad, Larry

As the slides, and memories, roll on, in his retirement post, Ian Madigan says the highlight of his rugby career was representing Ireland and playing in the green jersey at the 2015 World Cup.

He credits former Leinster and Ireland coach Joe Schmidt for ‘challenging me to be the best that I could be and always filling me with confidence’. There are separate pieces for his friends, agents and family members before Madigan’s No.1 fan, his grandfather, Larry, gets a lovely shout-out.

‘I have been so lucky to have you in my corner, every day of my life,’ he writes. ‘I could have done with you on some of the selection committees!’

‘Your support always provided me with a lift; your pre-match confidence boosters are legendary.

‘The story of you arriving to Lansdowne Road before the stadium had opened, for my first cap, because you wanted to see me warm up sums up how amazing you are’.

That debut for Ireland was back in the 2013 Six Nations, with the versatile Madigan [he could play 10, 12 and 15] coming on for Luke Marshall in a 13-13 draw with France.

Granddad Larry and everyone that knew Ian Madigan before that debut were already immensely proud. That Ireland bow, and the decade of rugby that followed, were the multiple cherries on top.

On that retirement post, replies from the likes of Simon Zebo, Gordon D’Arcy, John Cooney, Sean O’Brien, Devin Toner, Darren Cave, and many more, tell you what a player, and what a character, Madigan is.


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