Former Munster rugby star Tomas O'Leary during his time at Montpelier
FORMER Munster and Ireland rugby star Tomás O'Leary has announced his retirement from professional rugby.
O’Leary began his professional career with Munster in 2005, before winning the Heineken Cup in 2006 and 2008.
The Dolphin club man also played an integral role in Ireland's Six Nations Grand Slam victory in 2009, as first choice scrum-half.
He was subsequently chosen to represent the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa but sadly he never travelled due to a broken ankle sustained playing for Munster shortly after being selected.
The former Cork minor hurler has the unique distinction of playing first class rugby in the Guinness Pro12, the Aviva Premiership with London Irish and in the Top14 with Montpellier, where he finished his career.
He played over 200 first-class games throughout his career and now moves on to the next chapter in his life.
In a statement released today, O’Leary thanked all those who helped him achieve his dreams.
"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," he said.
"Highlights that stand out are the two Heineken Cup victories with Munster and winning the Grand Slam in 2009 with Ireland. However the most fulfilling experience is the unique bond and friendships I experienced through rugby. This comradery is what I will miss the most. For this, I would like to thank all of the teammates 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 & 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. Through rugby I also got the opportunity to live and play abroad. Playing in the Premiership with London Irish and in the Top 14 with Montpellier were unbelievable experiences for my family and I.
"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. I look forward to continuing to grow our businesses, Told & Co and RedZone Recruitment, but am also looking at new opportunities.”
"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. I'm excited to continue supporting Munster and Ireland and look forward to seeing what's in store for them!”