At 36, Alan Quinlan is on a one-year contract at Munster and nearing the end of a career that has never touched the heights it might have, writes Rugby World deputy editor Alan Pearey. If that sounds odd after 27 Ireland caps, two Heineken Cups and “the try that saved Irish rugby” at RWC 2003, then the disruptions caused by injury or suspension point to a character who often presses the self-destruct button.
Examples include his sin-binning within a minute of coming on against New Zealand in 2002 (friends called him Nicolas Cage, after the film Gone in 60 Seconds), the wayward behaviour that almost cost him a pro contract (he was forced to take a ten grand salary cut), and even the late indiscipline in the Miracle Match against Gloucester – Quinlan conceded a penalty that ought to have rendered Munster’s heroic efforts futile, but Andy Gomarsall, disastrously for Gloucester, tapped and ran when the three points would have put his side through.
Of course, it was the eye-gouging of Leo Cullen – a charge he denies vehemently – that hurt Quinlan the most, costing him a place on the 2009 Lions tour and sending him into a downward spiral whereby he couldn’t eat or sleep. The episode, which preceded the break-up of his marriage, ultimately proved cathartic and Quinlan is now patron of the Mental Health Association of Ireland, turning a huge negative into a positive.
It’s a turnaround that the game will rejoice in, for the former garage mechanic from Tipperary is one of life’s good guys, just with a few rough edges. His book, written with Kevin MacDermot, very much reflects that.
We have six copies to give away. For a chance to win one, tell us: Quinlan was Man of the Match in the 2008 Heineken Cup final – against which team? Send your answer by Fri day 11 March to our address or email rugbyworld email@example.com. Please give a phone number.
RW RATING 4/5
BUY AT: alanquinlanbook.com RRP: €19.99 (£17) PUBLISHED BY: Irish Sports Publishing
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This article appeared in the March 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine
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