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Grand Slam and European Cup winner Tomás O'Leary retires at 33

The former Munster and Ireland scrum-half has called time on a professional career that began in 2005.

Tomas O'Leary celebrates Tomás O'Leary celebrates after helping Ireland to Grand Slam success in 2009. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Updated at 15.00

TOMÁS O’LEARY HAS today announced his retirement from rugby.

The 33-year-old scrum-half won a Six Nations Grand Slam with Ireland and two European Cups with Munster during a professional career that began in 2005.

After leaving Munster to join London Irish in 2012, the Corkman returned to his home province in 2012 before finishing up with a loan spell at Montpellier last season.

“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,” O’Leary said in a statement.

“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 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.”

Tomas O'Leary O'Leary returned for a second spell with Munster in 2015. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

He added: “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.”

In his debut season with Munster, O’Leary won the first of his two Heineken Cup medals as back-up scrum-half to Peter Stringer in the win over Biarritz in the 2006 final. Two years later he was Munster’s starting number nine as they got the better of Toulouse to regain the trophy.

In 2009, O’Leary was a starter for Ireland during a Six Nations campaign that ended with a first Grand Slam success for the country since 1948. He was subsequently included in the British & Irish Lions squad for that summer’s tour to South Africa but was ultimately forced to withdraw after fracturing his ankle while on duty with Munster.

In addition to his achievements in rugby, O’Leary remains the last player to captain Cork to an All-Ireland minor hurling title. The Erins Own forward led the Rebels to victory over Galway in the final at Croke Park in 2001.

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Paul Dollery

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