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Horgan broke mould for Leinster

LONG before Seán, there was Shane.

The current poster boy for Leinster's outreach programme into the province and the club or youth game as opposed to the schools cup production line is Seán O'Brien.

There were others who came before the Tullow Tank. There was the 'Barnhall Bruiser' Trevor Brennan (1996-2001), Mark McHugh (1999-2002), even Niall 'Bressie' Breslin (2002-2004) and Niall Ronan (2003-2007).

The most enduring figure of all, though, is Shane Horgan through a 12-year career with Leinster in which he played 170 times for the province and 65 times for Ireland.

The Meath man's playing journey was brought to a sad conclusion yesterday with the confirmation that he has not been able to shake off a knee injury.

"Every professional sportsman realises that at some point their career will come to an end. I have been extremely fortunate to have played regularly for my province and with Ireland," he said.

"While I am disappointed that injury has forced me to retire now, I know I have been very lucky to have had such a long and largely injury-free career.

"It has been a tremendous honour to represent my province and my country. When you first start playing sport, that is the ultimate ambition but few people are lucky enough to realise it.


"I am just so grateful that I was given that opportunity. I am equally fortunate to have played at a time when Leinster and Ireland experienced such great success and alongside a group of players with unprecedented talent and ambition."

Indeed, no one who witnessed the two most outstanding moments of his international career will ever forget how he stretched to the line for Ireland's 78th-minute 2006 Triple Crown clincher in England or how he leaped like Jack O'Shea for that catch from Ronan O'Gara's cross-kick against England at Croke Park in 2007.

"I would also like to thank Lansdowne FC and my home club of Boyne RFC for their support since I started playing," he added.

Boyne rugby club. The place where it all started for McHugh, Ronan and Shane Horgan.