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Former Munster star on life after rugby, Ireland's WC chances and his new business

Ian Dowling tells The42 how’s he made the transition after his career was cut short through injury.

Dowling was forced to retire four years ago.
Dowling was forced to retire four years ago.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FORMER MUNSTER AND Ireland rugby player Ian Dowling might have had his playing career cut short by injury but the Kilkenny man wasted no time in starting a new one as soon as the old one ended.

The Shannon RFC clubman was forced to retire four years ago because of a hip injury but he hasn’t sat on his hands in the interim.

Instead, he’s graduated from UL with a physiotherapy degree last year and now runs his own practice in the city, while his evenings and weekends are taken up working for the rugby club on the other side of the city.

“I’m loving the physio now,” he told The42. “It’s quite different going back to college for four years, back into a classroom particularly when you’re in that professional player’s mindset.

“I was so used to being outdoors and focussing on playing and that was it but the course was great. I graduated last year. I’m out now and it’s nice to be finally developing my own approach and doing something that’s really rewarding.”

Since he graduated it’s been about developing as much experience as he possibly can and having completed placements all around the country during his degree course, he’s happy to be in the one spot for the time being.

“I’m in Limerick now, looking to get my own place,” he said.

“I’ve been very lucky in that my old club Shannon have given me great opportunities to accelerate my learning and the nature of what I do I get to see a whole raft of injuries.

“Dealing with shoulders knees, muscle strains… that was quite a handful coming out early doors but it’s been great for me.

Ian Dowling with Ben Cairns 5/2/2010 Source: Matt Mackey

“Limerick is flooded with physios but I’ve been fortunate.”

He’d still be playing had he not suffered a litany of injuries and though it took a while for him to make peace with the fact his career was cut short, he’s over it now, kind of.

“It’s getting easier. Initially when I started the course it was quite difficult, but now that I’m out and getting used to treating injured players it’s very rewarding and you do enjoy those good days when your team wins and you helped a guy get back playing.

“I worked in hospitals and just found them unrewarding; you were just managing patients to a particular stage sometimes, be it to get them out of hospital or whatever.

“You weren’t managing the whole rehab process but the thing I love is working with athletes or patients in private practice where you manage the whole process and get them back playing or to full mobility.”

Dowling, who celebrated his 33rd birthday yesterday, has been glued to the World Cup so far and though he likes what he’s seen from an Irish perspective, he predicts the mother of all battles against the French on Sunday.

“I wasn’t impressed by them against Italy on Sunday but the most important thing is there hasn’t been injuries,” he reasoned.

“That’ll strengthen their hand if they are to go on and win it because with 5 games in 20 days keeping guys injury-free is going to  be a huge factor.

Ian Dowling receives his Magners League medal Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I think everyone is realistic about our chances but I’d be a but worried at this moment after seeing the performance against Italy.

“It wasn’t what were used to seeing in a Joe Schmidt team…but this weekend will tell a lot in terms of where they’re at.”

Speaking of that top-of-the-table clash he said: “Yesterday’s performance is not going to get the job done against a very physical French team.

“It’s important that there’s more creativity in attack as well as trying to secure that quick ruck ball; that’ll play an important role.

“It’s great the way it’s coming down to the final pool stage game for us. It’s a real winner takes all.”

Overall, however, the Webb Ellis is staying in the southern hemisphere, he reckons.

“Australia were an outside team but they’ve shown they could go all the way.

“Quade Cooper is a great impact player, but (Bernard) Foley will be the guiding light for this team.”

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About the author:

Brian Canty

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