After 36 appearances and 19 tries for Leinster Rugby, winger Barry Daly has announced his retirement from the game to pursue further education.
The 27-year-old has stepped away from the game after two injury-hampered years during which he was sidelined by significant knee problems.
Daly, who also won two caps for the Ireland Men’s Sevens, will now travel stateside to continue his education, pursuing a Masters degree in Business.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie, Daly said of his decision: “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.
“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.”
Daly’s route to the senior squad at Leinster Rugby was not without its hiccups and could certainly be described as scenic. The winger was working in KPMG and playing in the Energia All-Ireland League with UCD when the opportunity to go on trial with the province emerged.
Daly paid tribute to some of the people who were instrumental in allowing him that ‘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.
“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.”