Donncha O'Callaghan announces retirement

O'Callaghan was part of the Grand Slam winning Ireland team in 2009

Donncha O'Callaghan has announced his retirement from professional rugby, writes Michelle McGlynn.

O'Callaghan has said that his match with Worcester Warriors against Harlequins on April 28 will be his last as a player.

The 39-year-old has spoken previously of his intention to retire but has never given an exact date for his departure.

His family will be flying over from Cork to watch him as he bows out after an incredible 20-year career.

O'Callaghan has 94 Ireland caps and was part of two Lions tours.

Writing in The Times UK today, he explained that although he feels physically able to continue playing, the strain of living away from his wife and four children has taken a toll.

"A professional sportsman has to lead a selfish life, but it’s not fair on my family for me to keep doing this while precious time ebbs away with me in one country and they in another," O'Callaghan said.

"Axel’s death impacted us in so many ways, not least in the manner it drove home the reality that the existence we have is fleeting and can be taken without notice.

"Before that happens, whenever the day or the year, you have to know you’ve spent the time you had with the people who are the most important."

O'Callaghan debuted for Munster in 1998 and played with the province before being granted an early release from his contract to join English Premiershup side Worcester Warriors in 2015.

In all he has played 506 professional matches, he recounts: "There’s been a lot of them: about 80 senior matches for Cork, 94 Ireland caps, four Lions appearances, two for the Barbarians, 58 games for Worcester and 268 with Munster."

He said that he is in no rush to decide what his next career move will be and will instead be focusing on spending quality time with his family.

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