MAYOR of Limerick City and County Cllr Kevin Sheahan has paid tribute to Paul O’Connell as an “incredible ambassador”.
The towering rugby legend this week confirmed his intention to retire from international rugby and be released from his Munster contract once the Rugby World Cup finishes later this year. He is likely to sign for Toulon, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Mayor Sheahan said of O’Connell, who played his last game for Munster in their disappointing Guinness PRO12 final defeat to Glasgow on Saturday, that he was “one of our most accomplished and recognised sports stars”.
“He is an inspiration to young and old, men and women carrying the Limerick badge of honour with him always and displaying it with pride,” the Mayor said of Paul, who received the freedom of the city in 2012.
“He has served his city, province and country in outstanding fashion throughout his rugby career. He is a man who loves Limerick, its people and the proud title that Limerick holds as sporting capital of Ireland and in turn, the people of Limerick idolise him.
“As Mayor, I would like to wish Paul and his family all the very best as he begins the next chapter of his life after the World Cup in September. I would like to especially thank him for all the wonderful sporting memories he has helped create over the years with Munster.”
Paul said this week that, once the Rugby World Cup finishes, he would “like to experience new environments, and it is my genuine hope and ambition that I will have some future involvement with Munster and Irish Rugby.
“I would like to thank Munster Rugby and the IRFU for releasing me from my contract at the end of the Rugby World Cup. I have been hugely fortunate to play with one of the greatest sporting organisations in the world - and as a proud Limerick, Munster and Irishman, I will forever treasure my association with Munster Rugby,” he added.