Ronan (seen here with young fan Mark Flavin) may have to find a new desk to pen his columns. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
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The best bits from Ronan O'Gara's debut as a rugby columnist

The retiring Munster, Ireland and Lions star paid tribute to the teenager Donal Walsh, who recently lost his battle with cancer.

RONAN O’GARA HAS hung up his rugby boots and is about to embark on a coaching career, with Racing Metro, in France.

The legendary Munster and Ireland outhalf will also join the Irish Examiner writing staff as a regular columnist. His first piece was published in the national newspaper [available from all good news outlets today from €2] today. Here are some of his stand-out comments:

On the retirement decision:

I am trusting my instinct and it is telling me now is the appropriate time to stop. Could I have played on for another year? Of course I could, but I feel it’s getting harder and harder every season and i want to leave the game at the height of my powers.

Had I already decided to retire before the loss in Montpellier? I kind of knew. My lads are gone. My boys in the team are gone.

‘My boys are gone’: O’Gara with Jerry Flannery and David Wallace. (©INPHO/James Crombie)

On his final game for Munster [the loss to Clermont]:

The reaction of many thousands of supporters in Montpellier that day will live long in the memory bank for my wife and I. I was bursting with pride walking around the pitch with my son, Rua, in my arms appreciating the fans’ efforts to get us over the line.

On retiring from the Irish rugby team:

I retire as Ireland’s most capped player but the decision of a certain Leinster man to keep playing suggests it won’t be for long. Time to hang up the boots Brian [O'Driscoll]!

Not being able to close out that Ireland career in my own way is a regret but one that was beyond my control. The only thing I’d say would be that the most pleasing thing was winning the No. 10 jersey back [from Jonny Sexton] for the 2011 World Cup. That confirmed the belief I had in myself and the doggedness I had about myself.

On his new coaching role:

I have ambitions in the years ahead to coach at a high level and, with this in mind, I can confirm now that i will be joining Racing Metro’s coaching staff in July for two years… I bet many of you are laughing at the prospect of Jonny Sexton having to listen to me on a daily basis!

On how the passing of Kerry teenager Donal Walsh has made him look back gratefully on his 17 years in rugby:

So those words of Donal’s… if I was a 10-year-old boy and i was asked what I would like to do, that’s what I would have liked to have done.

You can read the full O’Gara article in today’s Irish Examiner.

Ronan O’Gara’s incredible Munster career in 40 brilliant pictures

Honesty & magic — O’Gara retires having made Irish rugby great

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