Former Leinster Rugby centre Conor O’Brien has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect due to injury.
The 26-year-old Mullingar centre played 24 times for Leinster Rugby since his debut away to Glasgow Warriors in the 2017/18 season.
He made 14 appearances for the club the following season, including a Champions Cup debut, scoring six tries in the process, but since then, unfortunately, a consistent hamstring injury has hampered his progress.
O’Brien last played for Leinster in October of last year against Dragons in the United Rugby Championship, his only appearance of the campaign and he left the club at the end of last season.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie, O’Brien was grateful for all that he achieved but naturally disappointed with how his career had been cut short.
“It’s a very difficult decision to make or more to the point, a very difficult conversation to have with the medics but over the last few years we left no stone unturned in Leinster Rugby to try to get myself back to where I felt I should be.
“I’d like to wholeheartedly thank my physiotherapist Karl Denvir and the team doctor, Prof John Ryan for all their help.
“There are so many highs as an athlete but definitely there are lows as well and the team off the pitch of doctors and physios are brilliant because they pick us up from our lowest, time and time again. I can’t thank them enough.”
Reacting to the news, Leinster Rugby Head Coach said, “The last few years have been hugely frustrating for Conor and it’s very disappointing the way that it has ended for him. I know Conor and our medical team worked incredibly hard and no stone was left unturned but sometimes despite everyone’s best efforts, it doesn’t work out the way we’d all like.
“Conor burst onto the scene a few years ago and made his debut in Glasgow and he is a credit to Mullingar RFC and his family for how he has represented them all over the last few seasons.
“You could see that pride last week when we visited the club as part of our 12 county tour and they speak glowingly of Conor and the regular visits he makes to the club and how great he is with the next generation.
“It’s great to hear that he has his next move sorted and that is a credit to him and how he kept up his education while playing with Leinster.
“We wish Conor all the very best for the future and thank him for his contributions to Leinster rugby.”
O’Brien played with Mullingar RFC and came through the Shane Horgan Cup system into the Leinster Rugby pathway. He played with the Leinster age grade teams as well as representing the Ireland Under 20s and playing for Clontarf FC in the AIL.
“Of course, I’d love for it to have continued and I was hopeful that maybe with a bit of luck the injuries would heal but they haven’t.
“There are so many players that started out that journey with me. Making those trips up for Shane Horgan Cup trials with their Areas. And how many get to play for their Area? Then get to play for Leinster at any level so to pull on the Leinster jersey 24 times is something that I will be forever thankful for and that I am very proud of.
“I was always very conscious of who I was playing for. For Mullingar RFC. For my Area. For Westmeath. For the wider province. My family and friends. It really did mean a lot to me and it means a lot to all the players in there.
“I am very grateful to everyone in Mullingar RFC, especially Tony Doolin, Mick Lambe and Sean Óg Brennan for their support and then Leo, Stuart, Felipe and all the staff and players at the club. The injuries aside, I’ve loved every minute of my time at a special club.
“To my mam, Mary and dad, Garrett, my brother Séan, sisters Aoife and Sadhbh and girlfriend, Katie, thank you for keeping me going and keeping me focused and positive over the last few years and for your support and your love.”
As for future plans, O’Brien has a degree in economics from UCD already completed while at Leinster Rugby and is beginning a new chapter with the Dublin-based digital transformation company, Tekenable.
And after that, he is looking forward to maybe taking in a game or two at the RDS Arena and back at Cullion, the home of Mullingar RFC and a GAA match in Cusack Park.
“It will be strange I’m sure shouting from the stands at the RDS Arena, but the supporters have been brilliant to play in front of and I look forward to being part of that sea of blue myself and to cheering the lads on.
“It’s a special group, who I know are capable of great things in the seasons to come. I wish them all the best.”
Images & Content from Leinster Rugby
Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Bayonne At Thomond
The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Saturday’s Investec Champions Cup opener against Bayonne at Thomond Park (5.30pm).
Buy match tickets here.
Jean Kleyn will be unavailable until the New Year due to an eye injury suffered in the Leinster match. He attended for a specialist review last Tuesday and Wednesday and will have further follow-up before Christmas.
Jack Daly (ankle) and Liam Coombes (shoulder) both underwent surgery last week and will begin rehabilitation under the medical department.
There is good news for Patrick Campbell (ankle) as he has returned to team training.
Jack O’Donoghue (ankle) will also return to training this week.
Simon Zebo (knee) will continue to rehabilitate early this week.
The availability of Campbell, O’Donoghue and Zebo will be determined later in the week.
Peter O’Mahony (shoulder) is improving but will remain unavailable for the Bayonne clash.
Continuing to rehab: Jack Daly (ankle), Peter O’Mahony (shoulder), Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Joey Carbery (wrist), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles), Niall Scannell (groin).
There were 11 Munster players in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.
In Division 1A, Fionn Gibbons, Chris Moore and Keynan Knox helped Young Munster to a win over City of Armagh with Gibbons among the tries.
Ethan Coughlan and Daniel Okeke were in action for Shannon as they were beaten away to Terenure College.
In Division 1B, Jack Oliver, George Hadden and Colm Hogan helped Garryowen beat Blackrock College with Hogan scoring a try on his debut for the club. Oliver also kicked three conversions and two penalties.
Jack O’Sullivan and Ben O’Connor featured for UCC as they were narrowly beaten by Old Wesley.
In Evan O’Connell helped UL Bohemians to a draw against MU Barnhall.
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Peter O’Mahony Steps Down After Over 10 Years As Munster Captain
Munster Rugby can confirm that Peter O’Mahony has made the decision to step down as squad captain after over 10 years leading the province.
O’Mahony first captained Munster in a competitive game on September 3, 2011 at the age of 21. It was just his 12th appearance for the province and he led the side for the opening five games of that season.
He took over the Munster captaincy on a permanent basis ahead of the 2013/14 season following the departure of Doug Howlett.
The 2022/23 season was O’Mahony’s 10th year as squad captain and ended with glory in Cape Town as he lifted the URC title with Keith Earls after a thrilling win over the Stormers.
Along with captaining Munster, he has also led Ireland and the British & Irish Lions.
Head Coach Graham Rowntree and the coaching team will select a new squad captain in due course.
Peter O’Mahony said: “Captaining Munster has been a dream come true for me.
“I grew up watching and idolising the Munster team and in particular the people who were leading the team.
“People like Mick Galwey, Jim Williams then on to the likes of ROG and Paul, who I had the privilege of playing with at the start of my career.
“I can remember the day I was asked to be captain like it was yesterday and discussing it with Paul to get his approval.
“From that day to this it’s been an utter privilege and has never been something I’ve taken for granted.
“However, having given a huge amount of thought to it, I think it is the right time to step back from the role to share my experiences and give the same guidance that I received when I took on the role.
“What an unbelievable honour it has been…and will always continue to be.”
Paying tribute to O’Mahony’s over 10 years as captain, Rowntree said: “You couldn’t pick a better leader than Pete and he has been a fantastic captain for this club.
“To lead Munster from such a young age and for so many years speaks volumes of his ability as a player on the pitch and a person off it.
“He commands huge respect and will still be a massive leader within the group. To have someone of Pete’s experience on hand to help us with the succession process is invaluable.
“We have a strong leadership group within the squad and will confirm a new squad captain in due course.”
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Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Leinster In Dublin
The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Saturday’s URC round 6 clash against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium (6.30pm, live on TG4).
Our next home game is against Glasgow Warriors at Musgrave Park on Friday, December 1 (7.35pm). Buy match tickets here.
Following Saturday’s win over Stormers, Peter O’Mahony (shoulder) and Jack O’Donoghue (ankle) will both go for scans on their respective injuries.
Diarmuid Barron has progressed through the return to play protocols and will be available for selection.
Continuing to rehab: Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Joey Carbery (wrist), Patrick Campbell (ankle), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles), Niall Scannell (groin).
On the AIL front, there were nine Munster players in action for their clubs at the weekend.
In Division 1A, Keynan Knox and Fionn Gibbons helped Young Munster to a win over Terenure College at Tom Clifford Park.
Ethan Coughlan and Daniel Okeke were in action for Shannon as they were beaten by Lansdowne in Dublin.
In Division 1B, Jack Oliver and George Hadden lined out for Garryowen as they were beaten by St Mary’s College with Oliver kicking a conversion and a penalty.
Jack O’Sullivan was a try-scorer for UCC with Ben O’Connor also starting as they beat Queen’s University at the Mardyke.
In Division 1B, Evan O’Connell helped UL Bohemian to a 16-12 victory over Ballymena at Annacotty.
URC Round 7: Friday, December 1
Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Champions Cup Round 1: Saturday, December 9
Munster Rugby v Bayonne, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 8: Tuesday, December 26
Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20
Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here
Saturday, February 3
Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; Buy final tickets here
URC Round 11: Friday, March 1
Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30
Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11
Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1
Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here
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