You haven't seen the last of me - Quinlan
Alan Quinlan cut a slightly emotional figure yesterday as he announced his plans to retire at the end of this season, but he hinted that Munster supporters may not have seen the last of him.
The 36-year-old Tipperary man gave a strong indication that he will remain with the province in a coaching capacity when the curtain comes down on a glorious 15-year playing career.
A former mechanic, Quinlan laughed when asked whether he might consider a return to the motor industry when his playing days come to an end. "I don't think Pearse Motors will be busting a gut to get me back as a mechanic at this stage," he joked.
He also expressed amusement when it was suggested that he put his extensive knowledge of the breakdown to good use by becoming a referee.
But the Clanwilliam clubman became all serious again when asked whether he would like to remain in a game which he has served for most of his life.
"I don't really know yet," he said. "I'm certainly just going to take a little bit of time out. But rugby has been so good to me that I can't just walk away from it. Rugby is ingrained in me. It's in my blood. I could see myself getting back involved and certainly I would like to in the future.
"I did a coaching course a couple of years ago and I would look to do the level two course this summer."
Since making his Munster debut against Samoa in 1996, Quinlan has achieved just about everything there is to achieve at provincial level.
He has played 210 competitive fixtures in a red shirt, winning the Celtic Cup, Celtic League and later the rebranded Magners League, and of course two Heineken Cups. He also lined out 27 times for Ireland, but for all the highs, he has also experienced his fair share of lows.
He spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines with a succession of serious injuries, and he missed the 2009 Lions tour due to suspension, his greatest regret of all.
Yesterday, however, was not about dwelling on the negatives, but rather about reflecting on a proud narrative which saw 'Quinny' emerge from the amateur era to become one of the most respected players in professional rugby.
"I'm in a lucky position, hopefully getting out of the game in one piece," he remarked. "I've made some great friends and travelled the world. I've got an opportunity that so many people would give their right hand for.
"I've won Heineken Cups, played in front of what are, in my opinion, the best supporters of the world. I've been part of a successful period for Irish rugby, and it's been amazing.
"I want to look back and kind of give myself a pat on the back. I probably haven't done that all that much before. But I am pretty proud of what I achieved in the game. There is a respect about rugby that I love.
"You go out and beat the crap out of each other on the pitch, but you shake hands afterwards and have a few pints together.
"That's always been the case with me. I've made great friends out on the pitch and around the world through rugby. It's a fantastic, social game. It's brought Munster together as a province, and the success of Irish rugby has been phenomenal over the years.
"I've been very lucky really, and I want to say thank you to everybody who has given me great support along the way, from my family, the people of Tipperary, players, coaches and the Munster supporters."
Quinlan is included among a provisional 34-man squad for Saturday's Magners League game away to the Scarlets.
Tomas O'Leary is still unavailable with the eye injury he picked up on Ireland duty last month, but is expected to return to training next week and should be available for Munster's match against the Ospreys on April 23.
There are no further updates regarding Paul O'Connell, who is due to have another scan on his ankle this week, which should determine whether or not he will return before the end of the season.