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Munster legend Leamy takes next step in coaching career with Leinster

The 39-year-old turned to coaching after his enforced retirement from playing in 2012.

Leamy has joined Leinster's senior coaching staff.
Leamy has joined Leinster's senior coaching staff.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WHEN DENIS LEAMY was forced to retire from playing rugby at the age of 30 due to a hip injury, he admitted to wishing his career “had gone on a little longer.”

There was a sincere expression of gratitude towards fans, team-mates, coaches, and rugby staff, but one sensed that the Munster legend might not be completely finished with the sport.

Leamy himself will tell you that he never really considered a future in coaching during his playing days, but enforced early retirement changed that.

Nine years later, he is back in the senior professional game as Leinster’s new contact skills coach, integrating into Leo Cullen’s staff after two years as a development officer for the province, working with younger players in the pathway.

Cashel man Leamy will once again be involved at the top level and he has had to work hard to find his way back to the peak.

Many famous ex-players walk into big coaching jobs they’re arguably not qualified for very soon after hanging up their boots, but Leamy has been through a wide range of experiences before getting this chance with Leinster.

Upon retirement, he returned home to Tipperary to work on his family’s beef farm but was soon convinced to give coaching a crack with Clonmel RFC.

In his first season, Leamy helped them to a Junior Cup success. Over the next few years, he gained experience with Munster underage sides and also benefitted from Anthony Foley inviting him into the senior set-up for a couple of months in 2016.

His CV includes time with Young Munster, Rockwell College – his old school – as well as Garryowen and Cashel RFC, while he was part of the Tipperary hurling set-up that won an All-Ireland in 2016, when he mentored players and worked on their mental skills.

denis-leamy Leamy was the Ireland U20s defence coach. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He was an assistant coach with Munster A as recently as 2019, just before securing his role with Leinster as an elite player development officer, and was also the Ireland U20s defence coach for their Six Nations campaign earlier this year.

When Hugh Hogan departed for the Scarlets at the end of last season, Leinster were looking for a new contact skills coach and Leamy has stepped up.

“He’s brilliant,” says Leinster forwards coach Robin McBryde of Leamy. “He’s coming from a background of vast experience and success as well, so he’s already got that in his armoury.

“He has presented on a couple of occasions already now, so it’s great to see him – the messages have been very clear, delivered with a passion as well, with the knowledge that he’s got. The pictures he’s been showing are very good.

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“I’m really looking forward to working alongside Denis and learning from him.”

Some Munster fans might find it strange to see Leamy in a more prominent role with Leinster this season but there surely won’t be any begrudgery as the Tipp man pushes forward with his coaching career.

McBryde points out that “there aren’t that many opportunities to coach a top-flight team anywhere in the world anymore so when the opportunity comes you’ve got to grasp it” and jokes that if anyone in Leinster is slagging Leamy for his Munster background, “it’s probably behind his back, they wouldn’t do it to his face!”

Leamy is obviously well-known within the Leinster squad and has directly worked with several of the squad’s young players in his previous role, ensuring the transition has been seamless.

Leinster boss Cullen yesterday stressed that Leamy was “a fierce competitor” as a player and there’s no doubt that his relentless will to win is a fine fit for this new role.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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