Another member of Connacht’s victorious PRO12 squad is set to retire with hooker Tom McCartney about to bring the curtain down on six years at the Sportsground.
His retirement, due in a couple of months, will mean that by the start of next season over half of the squad which captured Connacht’s only ever trophy when they defeated Leinster four years ago will have departed the Sportsground.
The 34-year-old, who has returned to New Zealand with his wife and children following the suspension of the season, made 112 appearances for Connacht after being brought to Galway by his former Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam.
He may return if the season resumes after the Covid-19 pandemic but his appearance against Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup in January could turn out to be his last game for Connacht.
McCartney quickly became a leader in the dressing room and a big favourite with fans when he arrived in 2014 as Lam moulded Connacht into a serious side which captured silverware for the first time when they defeated Leinster 20-10 in the Pro12 final at Murrayfield four years ago.
And with lock Aly Muldowney retiring from Lam’s Bristol Bears this season, McCartney will become the seventh member of the 23-man squad who were on duty that day in Murrayfield to hang up his boots with Ronan Loughney, John Muldoon, Eoin McKeon, JP Cooney, and Andrew Browne having also bowed out. And with Robbie Henshaw, AJ MacGinty, John Cooney, Shane O’Leary, Jake Heenan, and Rodney Ah You having also moved on, it means just 10 of the squad which made history in 2016 will be at the Sportsground next season.