They build them hard out west: Johnny O'Connor ©INPHO/James Crombie
rock hard

4 of the finest rugby moments from the retiring Johnny 'Concrete' O'Connor

The Connacht flanker announced he is to step away from the professional game today.

CONNACHT FORWARD JOHNNY O’CONNOR announced his retirement from rugby this morning.

The versatile back row played 145 times for Connacht, was capped 12 times for Ireland and won two Heineken Cups and Premiership titles with London Wasps.

The 33-year-old earned his first international call up in 2004, making his debut in a winning effort  for Ireland against South Africa in the Autumn internationals.

In 2006 his was part of the Ireland team that won the Triple Crown in the Six Nations, featuring off the bench in victories over Wales and England.

Speaking about his decision, the player nicknamed ‘Concrete’ said, “My body is telling me that it’s ‘my time’ now.

“I’ve enjoyed my playing career massively and it wouldn’t have been possible without all the people who’ve supported me along the way.”

Here are four of O’Connor’s finest moments in rugby:

O’Connor, seen here tackling Northampton’s Johnny Howard, won Heineken Cups with Wasps in 2004 & 2007. (Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport)

Holding off Bakkies Botha on his Ireland debut in 2004. The South Africans were defeated 17-12. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

His memorable, cartwheeling try in 2005 against Romania. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

O’Connor, a proud Galwegian, featured off the bench last December, as Connacht defeated two-time European Cup finalists Biarritz in a famous 22-14 home win:

YouTube credit: Ballboll81

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood paid tribute to the retiring forward today. He said:

Johnny is a very  proud Connacht man and I know how much playing for his province meant to him.  His loyalty, dedication and  commitment  to his province has been first class.

“He played the game hard and his willingness to push his body to the limits for his team mates and province will be my stand out memory of Johnny and that is why  he is held in such high regard by all his team mates and our supporters.”

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