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Marcus Horan delighted to give back to communities that make Munster thrive

The prop forward has one week left as a rugby professional but finds himself busier than ever.

Marcus Horan celebrates the Grand Slam in 2009.
Marcus Horan celebrates the Grand Slam in 2009.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire

THE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT his retirement came on 11 April and, one month later, Marcus Horan admits he is still trying to get to grips with the idea of the great unknown.

Although he did not feature in the game, Horan – winner of two Heineken Cups and a Grand Slam – was given a rousing ovation by Munster fans before the Pro12 match with Leinster at Thomond Park. Appearances followed for Shannon in the Ulster Bank League and, for one more week, the prop will train with his Munster colleagues.

Munster’s most-capped forward leaves with 224 caps for his club and memories of two amazing days, both in the Millennium Stadium, when his team were crowned champions of Europe. “Were were so close for so long,” Horan told TheScore.ie, “that when you finally get there it is such a relief. To come back two years later, though, and win it again was even sweeter.”

While the 35-year-old admits he is busier than ever with requests and catch-ups, since he called time on his pro career, time to ‘switch off and enjoy family life’ is top of the agenda. Former teammates such as Jerry Flannery, David Wallace and John Hayes, among others, were quick to call him up and offer advice and support.

However, if you drop along to the Limerick Learning Hub in Kileely today, you may well find Horan drumming his fingers along to the offerings from young musicians as part of an Open Day at the centre.

Horan, through the Irish Rugby Union Players’ Association’s Boardmatch programme, has been involved at the Hub for the past year. Boardmatch pairs players up with businesses and charitable organisations to the mutual benefit of all parties. Other examples of successful IRUPA pairings include Wallace with Special Olympics Ireland and Shane Jennings with Ronald McDonald House.

Horan commented, “You are placed on the board of an organisation or company and are actively involved in the business, how it runs and the logistics of the operation. In return, you rope in a few of your colleagues for photo opportunities and try to raise the profile of the place or of upcoming events.”

Marcus Horan and John Hayes with children from Corpus Christi School in Limerick. (Credit: widumedia)

The charitable company began life as the Northside Learning Hub, in 2007, but has since incorporated all of Limerick city, county and parts of Co. Clare. Horan said:

The hub is offering school children opportunities that they may not have access to. There is science, music, technology, art, creative writing, gardening and after-school clubs. It is all about allowing the children to discover their creative talents and dealing with the staff here, who have a real passion for what they do.

The former Ireland international also credits the third level students that volunteer their time at the hub. With money tight across the country and cutbacks affecting a host of Irish charity groups, the Clare native says local funding, community partnerships [Thomond Park and The Hunt Museum] and local fundraisers are vital to keep Limerick Learning Hub ticking over.

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Keith Earls spells out Moyross on the Lansdowne Road pitch in 2010. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

With so many children from the city of Limerick regularly visiting the hub, Horan says the achievements of Moyross native Keith Earls are closely followed.

He said, “Keith is from the area and is a real hero to the kids. He was in Ireland camp when we had our last open day but we are hoping to get him along soon. He is a real role model for the children.”

Of all the services and activities on offer at the hub, Horan is eager to ‘get stuck into the computers’. However, when former Munster teammate John Hayes showed up to lend a hand late last year, technology took a back seat to good, old-fashioned elbow grease. Hayes wouldn’t have it any other way.

“John came along to help out with some orchard planting,” said Horan. “The idea is to grow some apples and sell apple juice locally as a cottage industry.” Horan & Hayes Apple Juice — coming soon to a shop near you.

*The Open Day at the Music Hub, at the Limerick Learning Hub@learninghublimk - runs from 1pm today.

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Patrick McCarry

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