Connacht centre Dave McSharry has been forced to retire from professional rugby due to a concussion injury.
McSharry, an Ireland A international, met a neurologist last week where he was advised to retire.
“Although I am devastated my time as a player has come to an end, I know it is the only decision available to me after speaking to the specialist,” McSharry told the Connacht website.
“I leave Connacht Rugby with incredible memories I will cherish forever and I am hugely proud to be leaving as a PRO12 champion.”
McSharry, 26, joined Connacht in 2011 and went on to play 65 times for the Irish province.
He won an Ireland A cap in January 2013, starting for the Wolfhounds against England Saxons in Galway.
McSharry was called into Ireland’s Six Nations training squad the following day but injury restricted his international progress that season.
Connacht won their first PRO12 title last season, but McSharry was ruled out of the rest of the campaign in February after suffering a string of concussions.
“It has been a difficult year for Dave but throughout it all he has remained the consummate professional and has contributed greatly as a valued and popular member of our team,” said Connacht head coach Pat Lam.
Meanwhile John Muldoon will captain Connacht in the defence of their Pro12 title, and the 14-season veteran claims he wants to lead the side for as long as he can play.
Muldoon was asked by coach Pat Lam to carry on his leadership role this season after a few days of pre-season, and the Portumna native insists he didn’t take long to decide.
With the glory of Edinburgh in May still fresh in his mind, it would have come as no surprise had Muldoon – the most capped player in the league – taken a step back to concentrate on his own game this year, but he remains the man that his teammates look to in tight situations.
“No! I didn’t think about it. Pat asked me after about three or four days of pre-season, asked me to think about it. I said: ‘OK, I’ve thought about it’,” said the 33-year-old Muldoon, speaking at the launch of the 2016/17 Connacht home jersey in conjunction with new title sponsor and retail partner Elverys Intersport.
“He asked me if I was happy to do it. I said: ‘Do you want me to do it?’ He said: ‘Of course,’ and we shook hands. That was about it. Me and Pat have a very transparent relationship.
"If I’m not happy with something or I think something, I’ll say it to him. He knows I’ll say it to him. He will say stuff to me, so I think it was a very similar conversation along the lines of my contract negotiation.
“Do you want to keep me?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Good luck.’ When you’re younger you try and play your cards a little closer to your chest but I don’t want to go anywhere else and I’m happy to be captain as long as I’m good enough to be on the pitch.”
Muldoon has been a key leader since Lam arrived at the Sportsground in 2013, and he previously captained the province for four seasons in Michael Bradley’s and Eric Elwood’s time. But it is with Lam that Muldoon as flourished as a leader and player.
Muldoon admits that Lam is not the type of coach that likes to roar and shout when things don’t go his way – but he says the players also know all about his ruthlessness.
“It’s not his style (to bang tables), but if he needs to do it, he’ll do it. Since Dan McFarland went, there’s probably not as much shouting and roaring, especially at the forwards, but the mark of any good coach is to be able to do both – being able to compliment someone but also put them in their place.
“Pat certainly doesn’t have any qualms about telling you if you’ve done something wrong. He’s the first to tell you and sometimes he can be quite harsh. He can be brutal in some of those meetings but he will always try to help you to get to the other side of it.
“If you’ve got a deficiency in your game, he’ll help you to get to the other side of that and make sure you understand how to fix it. That’s the good thing about Pat. Yes, he’ll be harsh on you in the meeting but he’ll also help you make sure you understand why he’s doing it.
“Someone asked me about Pat recently and I asked them if they thought we looked back at the Leinster game, or did they think we just looked back on it and said it was brilliant.
“We did a full-on review of the Leinster game two months after we had played Leinster because that’s who Pat is. It wasn’t just looking at this brilliant try or how we had scored.
"He said: ‘We got this wrong, this wrong, this wrong’. That’s who Pat is. He always shows good stuff and he’s positive, but he’ll never leave a stone unturned.”
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