The Munster prop was last night the recipient of plaudits from various quarters, amongst them from Munster team manager Niall O’Donovan and former playing colleague Peter Stringer, now playing in Bath.
The decision to retire brings the curtain down on a professional career stretching back 14 years and one that has seen Horan become Munster’s most capped forward with 224 appearances. He also won 67 senior international caps.
“I’ve known and been involved with Marcus since he was an 18-year-old starting out with Shannon and subsequently with Munster and Ireland as well,” said O’Donovan.
“Throughout that time he conducted himself with dedication in a truly professional manner and in a Munster sense his contribution has been immense. He’s been a great team player, an exemplary squad member, a real example to others.
“I understand how difficult it must be for Marcus to make this decision. It’s never an easy one and it presents a challenge. But I’ve no doubt he’ll meet that challenge with the same courage he showed on countless occasion in the past both on and off the field.”
Stringer described it as an end of an era: “Marcus would be one of my closest friends, to try to sum it up in a few words is difficult but I suppose I’ve played the whole way up with Marcus from the 21s and he broke the mould of prop forwards in a sense.
“He came along and was a guy with tremendous skill, great agility and speed. It’s sad to see him leave the pro game but he has had a great run and has been very successful. I just wish him all the best.”
Horan earned his first senior competitive cap in the Interprovincial series in August 1999 against Leinster and the first of his 84 Heineken Cup caps came later that season as a replacement for Peter Clohessy in Munster’s 32-10 win over Pontypridd at Thomond Park.
His first Heineken Cup start came three weeks later in the front row company of Keith Wood and John Hayes when they enjoyed an historic first-ever victory on French soil over Colomiers.
Horan eventually made the Munster and Ireland number one shirt his own and participated in most of the great days for both teams during his remarkable career when he was widely recognised as one of the finest loose head props of his generation.
Horan was pragmatic about his decision but acknowledged it had been tough to call time on his playing career.
“I’ve enjoyed my career no end and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’d like to thank all those involved for helping me and I am grateful to my family and the marvellous Munster supporters beyond words.”