To mark the club’s final season at Madejski Stadium, we will be speaking to London Irish players from over the years to discuss their current roles and professions and their best memories of running out in a London Irish jersey in Reading.
Next up in our series is Tomás O’Leary, an Irish Grand Slam winning scrum-half who was with the Exiles for three seasons making 51 appearances.
Following the completion of his rugby career with a stint in the South of France, the Munsterman is back in his native Cork with wife Julie and two sons.
“Life is good fun; we are both kept busy (with the kids) so it is great to be back home near our family and our network of friends” said O’Leary.
The former rugby player, who was a contestant on Ireland’s Dancing with the Star in 2018, is now working as a Business Development Manager, in addition to his own venture with wife Julie.
“Julie and I have a watch company called Told & Co Designs (www.toldandco.com) and I work as a Business Development Manager for Stelfox, an IT Recruitment agency in my day to day role. I’m enjoying the change over from rugby, but I miss the craic with the lads, and the fun. I don’t miss the body being beaten up!”
The fixture that initially jumps to mind when discussing memories of playing at the Madejski is the win against Harlequins in October 2013. Irish prevailed 18-13 in a tight affair.
“Beating Harlequins in the league was a memorable day, it was always nice to edge out Quins. Playing in the London Double Headers at Twickenham and the St Patrick’s Party were always great craic.”
The scrum-half is still in regular contact with several of the London Irish players from the squad that day against Harlequins.
“I still speak to Darren Allinson, Eamonn Sheridan, Jamie Hagan, Gilly (Conor Gilsenan) Miles Dorrian and Topsy Ojo as well. There is a nice crew that I’m still in touch with, that is one of the best things about London Irish, the family nature of the club and just how friendly it is, just how much fun we had on and off the pitch with the group of players we had when I was there.
“I loved my time at the club, we had a very tight knit group of players and it was great fun.”
O’Leary keeps a keen eye out for the Exiles scores and is excited at the direction the club is now taking.
“Back home here I tune in to a lot of the Munster games because they are readily available on TV, but I always know who London Irish are playing and check out the results on social media etc.
“It is fantastic to see the club doing so well at the moment and with the move to Kew on the horizon it is very exciting for the club.”
Back in 2005, Declan Kidney gave O’Leary his first opportunities with Munster and then Ireland following, so has first-hand experience of what he can bring to the club.
“I have a great relationship with Deccy. What he has achieved in the game domestically and internationally is great and he has really led the way. He’s great man manager and has a real good handle for morale and when the squad needs a pick me up. He’s a great coach.”