Tiernan O'Halloran of Connacht his side's first try during the 2016 Guinness PRO12 final versus Leinster in Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo:John Dickson/Sportsfile

Connacht star O’Halloran to retire from rugby

Connacht legend Tiernan O’Halloran has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season, bringing to an end a stellar 15-year career with his home province.

Regarded as one of Connacht's all-time greats, the full-back has made 236 appearances, scoring 48 tries in the process. The Clifden native made his senior Connacht debut at the age of just 18, featuring against Olympus Madrid in the Challenge Cup in 2009, and has been an ever-present member of the pro squad since.

He has since gone on to have an immeasurable impact on the club, and will be forever remembered for scoring the opening try of the 2016 PRO12 final, in which Connacht memorably defeated Leinster at Murrayfield. It was a Connacht team that also included Robbie Henshaw in what was the Athlone's last game for the western province.

O'Halloran then followed up that great season by being named Connacht Rugby Player of the Year in 2017.

His performances over this period also earned him the first of his six caps for Ireland.

O'Halloran has strong local links in that his father Aidan hails from Moate. A very talented footballer, Aidan enjoyed Hogan Cup success with the Carmelite College.

Aidan went on to play for Westmeath, before transferring to Offaly, a contentious move which saw him become part of their famous 1982 All-Ireland winning squad.

Speaking about his decision to retire, Tiernan O’Halloran said: “After 15 seasons of an absolute dream come true I’ve decided to call it a day on my rugby career. I could never have imagined as a nine-year-old boy starting rugby growing up in Clifden that I would have experienced the career I was lucky to live!"

Thanking everyone who helped him along the way, Tiernan hailed his parents (Aidan and Máire) as his "inspiration and super heroes". "I genuinely struggle to put into words how much you mean to me and my career. Also to my brother Cian and sister Evanne for always being the most supportive siblings," he said.

"To my amazing fiancée Emily and precious son Rían, you guys have been my rock through so much and I cannot wait for our next chapter as a family! To the Connacht family (Clan), I genuinely loved every minute of representing all of you, and I look forward to joining you all at the new Dexcom Stadium in the future to cheer on the lads," continued O'Halloran, a past pupil of Garbally College in Ballinasloe.

"For the last 15 years I gave it my all for that jersey. I’ve had many highs and lows throughout the journey, but 2016 will always be my most memorable year! From that amazing day in Edinburgh to my first time representing my country in South Africa, I never would have got to that point without the support of my family, friends and teammates.

"I am eternally grateful to all of the coaches and team management I played under throughout my career who always supported and guided me. A massive thanks to the medical and S&C staff over the years who helped me from so many injuries.

"From Connemara RFC through Garbally College and Cistercian College Roscrea, I have embraced every minute of living an absolute dream, and I look forward to being a supporter for years to come. Connacht Abu!”

Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins added: “Tiernan should be extremely proud of his career and his impact on the game of rugby in Connacht. The Connacht Rugby of today is very different to the one he first played for in 2009, and Tiernan played his part in helping the club on that journey.

"He lived his dream of representing his boyhood club and helping them to silverware, and for that his name will be forever etched in the club’s history. We thank him for his incredible loyalty and dedication, and we will give him the send-off he deserves when his time with us comes to an end.”

CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane said: “For 15 years Tiernan has represented his home province with absolute distinction. Ever since his early days as a young Academy player from Clifden, he has always given 100% for the betterment of both him and Connacht Rugby. It’s because of that loyal commitment he has inspired the next generation of Connacht players that we see today and into the future.”

Connacht supporters will have an opportunity to pay tribute to Tiernan at the final home game of the season against the Stormers on May 18, and the annual Connacht Rugby Awards at the end of the month.