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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018

7 of our favourite moments from Donncha O'Callaghan's Munster career

A team player, a veteran, and an inadvertent underwear model.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

AFTER 17 YEARS in the red of Munster and 263 appearances, it was announced this morning that Donncha O’Callaghan would be departing the province, bound for the Aviva Premiership and Worcester Warriors.

The Corkman will go down as one of the province’s greatest ever players, having been a constant in the side through their rise since the turn of the century.

His passion on the pitch and sense of humour off it made him a favourite of the Munster and Ireland fans, and as his career in the red jersey comes to a close, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the reasons the big second row endeared himself to the Munster faithful.

Putting Chabal into his place

Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell. For the best part of a decade, it was hard to imagine one without the other.

Their partnership was virtually unbreakable for both province and country during the 2000s, and when they stepped out onto the pitch together you could see why.

One of their most memorable moments together was the famous hit on Sebastien Chabal at Thomond Park in 2006. O’Connell made the initial hit off O’Gara’s kickoff, with O’Callaghan following up to drive “Sea Bass” back, what may consider to be the turning point of the game.

chabal hit

Passing the record in his home town

Munster don’t play as often as they used to in Cork, but it felt appropriate that – being the proud Corkman that he is – O’Callaghan should pass Munster’s all-time appearance record in rebel territory.

Munster’s win against Zebre in 2014 marked his 241st appearance by coming on as a sub to a great reception, although it was sad in the circumstances to see Dave O’Callaghan stretchered off.

O’Callagahn went on to extend the record, finishing his Munster career with 263 games for the province.

Source: PRO12 Rugby/YouTube

Being a real team player

O’Callaghan wasn’t much of a try scorer, but he was always ready for the donkey work.

When Denis Leamy crashed over for Munster’s only try of the 2008 Heineken Cup final, it was O’Callaghan who gave him the vital support from behind.


THAT try against Leicester

As mentioned above, O’Callaghan’s strike rate wasn’t big, just eight tries in his 263 games for the province.

One of those eight came in the Heineken Cup opening round game in Leicester at the start of the 2006/07 season, as Munster won a classic at Welford Road.

O’Callaghan ran in a try from the halfway line that day, before a late Ronan O’Gara penalty gave Munster the dramatic win.

Just look at the arms and legs go. And also, that celebration…

try leicester

He knew how to celebrate

I’m not sure if it is for others, but my abiding memory of the “Miracle Match” against Gloucester in 2003 is O’Callaghan going absolutely mental with the fans at fulltime.

As the thousands invaded the Thomond Park pitch, O’Callaghan just grabs the nearest stranger, and lets it all out.

miracle match

He’s a gas ticket altogether

While he was the model pro as a rugby player, there’s always been a bit of a divil in O’Callaghan.

One story in particular from his Munster days, sums it all up.

“A few of us grabbed a box of cornflakes and brought it down to the local lake or pond and started to feed the ducks, but they started following us, so eventually we got them a little bit further up the road and realised the lads were having a management meeting.”
“Alan Gaffney and Jerry Holland said all they saw was a door open, and a handful of cornflakes hit the ground, and 12 ducks jump into the team room.
“As always, a bit of a backfire, because I ended up cleaning up duck shit for the rest of the day.”

Total commitment

You didn’t think we forgot, did you?

100 percent commitment.

Nothing less.

Source: Georgie Casey/YouTube

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About the author:

Neil Treacy

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