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McGrath and Reidy among five players to depart Ulster at end of season

Ross Kane, David O’Connor and Mick Kearney were also thanked by Dan McFarland for their contribution to the white jersey.

Ireland international Sean Reidy will head back home to New Zealand at the end of this season.
Ireland international Sean Reidy will head back home to New Zealand at the end of this season.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JACK MCGRATH, SEAN Reidy, Ross Kane, David O’Connor and Mick Kearney will all depart Ulster at the end of the season, the northern province has confirmed.

Ireland international McGrath joined Ulster from Leinster in 2019 but injury has limited him to just 24 appearances in the white jersey.

The 32-year-old McGrath, who is about to undergo further medical treatment and “will continue his rehab and journey back to full fitness as a professional player in the months ahead”, said he that has no intentions of retiring from the sport and he will explore his options as a free agent as he works towards a return to competitive action.

“A big thanks goes to Ulster Rugby and the coaches during my time in Belfast. My team-mates became close friends and I will always value those friendships.

“I will miss the incredible support of the Ulster fans. It’s a great feeling running out at Kingspan Stadium as a home player, and it’s a shame I can’t get the opportunity to say farewell.

As for the future, I’m now a free agent and I have no intention of retiring. I face months of rehabbing in my battle for full fitness, but I am surrounded by a top-class team who will ensure I am in great shape to return to play. I am fully committed to becoming the first player in any sport to play at an elite level with two hip-resurfacing operations.

david-shanahan-and-jack-mcgrath-after-the-game Jack McGrath has no intention of retiring. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

New Zealand-born Reidy, also a capped Ireland international, will return to his native land after an eight-year spell at Ulster which saw him make over 150 appearances for the club.

The renowned tackler said on his departure: “I want to thank everyone at Ulster for making this place feel like home over the past eight years. It has been a privilege to represent the province and to have the opportunity to play for Ireland. Belfast has felt like home these past years, and we have made lifelong friendships. I leave this place with only good memories.”

Bangor prop Kane, a product of the Ulster schools system via Methodist College Belfast, made his senior Ulster debut during the 2016/17 season. He went on to make 60 appearances for the province before his move to Ealing Trailfinders was confirmed earlier this week.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the players and staff at Ulster Rugby that have helped me during my time here, Kane said.

“Naturally it is a tough decision to leave your home club, but the time is right for me to move on and progress my career elsewhere.

“Over the eight years that I’ve spent at Ulster, there have been an incredible amount of highlights on and off the field with an amazing group of players.

“I want to wish the club the best of luck for the future. I have no doubt that they will achieve something special which will be well-deserved.”

adam-mcburney-sean-reidy-david-oconnor-alan-oconnor-and-eric-osullivan David O'Connor (third from left) training alongside his brother Alan (fourth) at Kingspan. Source: John Dickson/esportif/UlsterRugby/INPHO

Lansdowne man O’Connor, brother of Alan O’Connor, is already on loan at Ealing. O’Connor joined Ulster on a development contract in 2019, making 15 appearances for Dan McFarland’s side.

“I made some incredible memories and friendships along the way.

To be able to have played professionally with Alan was not just extremely special for me, but for my whole family; something that will be hard to beat.

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“Thanks to everyone in Ulster from the players and coaches to the staff that made my time so enjoyable. All the best to the club and everyone in the future.”

Lineout operator Kearney, who previously made over 150 appearances for Connacht, Leinster and Zebre, brought significant experience to the Ulster setup when he joined on a short-term contract this season.

Kearney, who represented the northern province on nine occasions, said that Ulster is “a good club, full of good people, working hard to achieve a common goal. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of this group for the last 12 months and I’ve no doubt there’s big days ahead for the club.”

Head coach McFarland, said of the five departing players: “Thank you to Jack, Sean, Ross, Dave, and Mick for all that they have given to the Ulster jersey over the years.

“They can all leave proud in the knowledge that they have each made a significant contribution to our province, and the journey we are on as a squad – and I wish them the very best for the future on behalf of all the players and staff at the club.”

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