We are accustomed to bad news about players having their careers cut short but in the past week Munster have had to cope with one of their staff as well as one of the players calling it quits.
Strength and Conditioning coach Paul Darbyshire will have to quit at the end of this season after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease. Darbyshire, a native of Wigan and originally a recruit from Rugby League, is a popular and highly respected member of the Munster set-up and will be sadly missed. A sponsored cycle is being organised by Munster to raise awareness of the condition, and to raise funds for research into MND http://www.munsterrugby.ie/news/8867.php
The second blow came with the news that Ian Dowling is retiring because of a hip injury. Dowling was described by Tony McGahan as being one of his first names down on the team sheet. And you could understand why. The wing personified mental strength. He had a terrific attitude to the game that made him a nightmare to play against. The only compensation to Dowling having to quit at 28 is that he does so with two Heineken Cup and one Magners League medal in his pocket.
Interestingly he is already on the road to a related career in physiotherapy. You would imagine that when he arrives there he will be uniquely positioned to advise patients on how to get the best out of themselves every time they play.