Tomás O’Leary yesterday announced his retirement from professional rugby “happy and content that it is time to move on”.
O’Leary, 33, won two Heineken Cup titles with Munster and was scrum-half when Ireland won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009.
He was subsequently selected for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa but was ruled out after breaking his ankle shortly after the squad was announced.
O’Leary, who was capped 24 times for Ireland, began his Munster career in 2005 and played 146 times for the province.
He inked a deal with London Irish in 2012, spending three seasons in the Aviva Premiership, before returning to Munster in 2015. His second stint there was plagued by injury and he saw little game-time. The former Cork minor hurling star finished his career with Top 14 club Montpellier last season, having joined the French outfit last October.
O’Leary said: “I have had an incredible career, from my academy days in Munster to my last game in Montpellier, all of which have been extremely satisfying. I have realised my ambition of representing Munster and Ireland. Wearing the red and green jerseys has been a real honour.
“Highlights that stand out are the two Heineken Cup victories with Munster and winning the Grand Slam in 2009 with Ireland. The most fulfilling experience is the unique bond and friendships I experienced through rugby. This camaraderie is what I will miss the most. For this, I would like to thank all of the team-mates I have had the pleasure of playing with throughout my career.
“A special mention has to go to the supporters in both Munster and Ireland, they were incredible to play for and represent. The spirit they have helped to create within the team is unparalleled and the atmospheres created by them enhanced and defined some of the biggest moments of my career.
“Particular thanks to Munster Rugby and the IRFU for helping me achieve my dreams. I deeply appreciate the input and help from all of my coaches and medical staff throughout my entire experience. There are too many to mention but the influence my school CBC and my club Dolphin had on my development was integral to my success.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of my family and friends for their support. In particular I would like to thank my wife Julie for her constant belief and support. My parents Geraldine and Seán have been an incredible support throughout my life and my success in sport would not have been possible without their support. Thanks also to my agent Niall Woods of Navy Blue who advised me and helped make my career so enjoyable.
“I retire from professional rugby happy and content that it is time to move on and embrace future careers. Rugby has played such a huge role in my life and I’m truly grateful to all those who helped make the journey so special.”
O’Leary runs a watch business, Told & Co, with Julie and will focus on developing that.
Dolphin RFC chairman John Stringer paid tribute to O’Leary last night: “As a former Dolphin player, it was great to see him getting capped 24 times for his country, and over 100 for Munster. He was a very under-rated player, I think, very tenacious and quick on the ball. He was unlucky to have injured his ankle before the Lions Tour in South Africa in 2009, but nonetheless had a terrific career with a lot of top sides.”
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