Goodbye to a Munster Warrior as O'Callaghan confirms his retirement date 

Goodbye to a Munster Warrior as O'Callaghan confirms his retirement date 
Donncha O'Callaghan playing for the Barbarians in Thomond Park. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

DONNCHA O'CALLAGHAN announced last October that he would be hanging up his boots and this weekend confirmed that his last game as a player will be against Harlequins on April 28.

That game will see a playing career that has spanned three decades as a senior player and one that has seen many highs and some lows.

It is fitting that he finishes his career with a club called the Worcester Warriors because in every facet of his life he has been a warrior.

Having to adapt to his early life without a father, Hughie, who had died when O’Callaghan was very young, making a choice between working with his older brother Emmett as a plasterer or trying professional rugby as a career, or moving away from his beloved Munster in 2015 to play with the Warriors, he has always been ready to die hi his boots.

Family has played a huge part in O’Callaghan’s life and it is one of the reasons he has cited for calling it a day.

He comes from a very tight knit family who will attend the final game at the end of the month and has created his own tight knit unit along with wife Jenny.

"I'm making what I thought were sacrifices, [but] were really selfish acts and I really need to prioritise my family and the four kids,” said the 39 year old.

"What I've seen in sport is that that's the most important thing, just to have the balance right."

When it comes to writing about O’Callaghan next season writers will be able to use the words like former Highfield, CBC, Cork Con, Munster, Ireland, Lions, Barbarians, UN ambassador or mental health advocate.

He has fit a lot into his time in the game but in the professional era was a two-club man.

That could have stayed as a one-club man had things been different in his home province of Munster but gave his all in the 17 seasons he was with the Reds.

A red to the core, he formed one of the greatest second row partnerships in northern hemisphere rugby for Munster, Ireland and the Lions with Paul O’Connell.

While many would have seen the jovial side of O’Callaghan’s nature publicly, he was the consummate professional in training and in games where he let his huge natural physical strength lower the flag of many an opponent.

A non-smoker and non-drinker – something that has contributed to his longevity in the game – Munster, Ireland and Warriors coaches always talked about his dedication to being in top physical condition and if O’Callaghan had decided that there was another year left in his boots could have spent it in the West Country with Warriors.

He will be missed particularly in the Premiership by their referees as the Corkman was always a willing helper and certainly for any young player who is contemplating a career in the professional game should use O’Callaghan as their template.

Hugely competitive, funny, fit, honest, decent, red jocks wearing (sorry that one had to go in) he was a warrior to the core during his playing days and has made sure that there will be a career both as a pundit and on shows like Ireland’s Fittest Family after the game.

More in this section

Sponsored Content