Friday 30 September 2016

Donncha departs a Munster icon

Published 05/09/2015 | 02:30

Donncha O’Callaghan’s decision to depart Munster for pastures new in the final straight of a great career will receive as much support if not more than the iconic figure that is Paul O’Connell
Donncha O’Callaghan’s decision to depart Munster for pastures new in the final straight of a great career will receive as much support if not more than the iconic figure that is Paul O’Connell

Given it is World Cup time and there is but one show in town, the goings-on at Pro12 level tend to slip under the radar.

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Understandable in the circumstances and yet when the most-capped player in Munster's rugby history announces he is leaving to finish his career elsewhere then it deserves space alongside the global extravaganza that is Rugby World Cup .

Donncha O'Callaghan's decision to depart Munster for pastures new in the final straight of a great career will receive as much support if not more than the iconic figure that is Paul O'Connell. A record 268 appearances for the province he has served with such dignity, 94 caps for Ireland embracing three World Cups, four Triple Crowns, plus that historic Grand Slam success in 2009.

To that add two Lions tours while over 17 blemish-free years for Munster, he won two European Cups, three Celtic Leagues and one Celtic Cup title. His record is unparalleled.

He occupies the same legendary lock status as Bill Mulcahy, Brendan Foley, Moss Keane, Mick Galwey, Donal Lenihan and, of course, his partner in the red boiler house for so many years, O'Connell.

The current Irish captain summed him up best when saying: "Donncha encapsulates what it means to be a Munster man, true to his values in every way." That too is my take. Forever with a smile and sense of humour. A man of compassion with little time for celebrity and all it entails.

Married to Jennifer and blessed with three beautiful daughters, Donncha (left) has turned that 'fame' into such positive humanitarian use when becoming an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland in the latter years of this extraordinarily successful career.

Along with brother Ultan - another great Highfield and Cork Con rugby man despite not quite reaching the same exalted heights - the O'Callaghan brothers have done Irish rugby proud.

Irish Independent

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