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Alan Quinlan factfile

The facts

Date of birth: July 13, 1974

Position: Back-row

Height: 6' 3"

Weight: 16st 7lbs

Munster appearances: 204

Ireland caps: 27

The highs

Au revoir, Fabien

Quinlan already had a Heineken Cup medal by the time he ran out in Cardiff to face Toulouse in 2008 but, two years previously, he only got on the pitch for a few minutes, having been selected on the bench.

Second time around, he was determined to make the most of the experience and did exactly that -- picking up the man-of-the-match award with a superb all-round display that included tormenting Fabien Pelous into aiming a kick at Quinlan's backside which saw the Toulouse skipper despatched to the bin at a critical point in the final.

Saints and winners

Man-of-the-match awards have been a regular feature of Quinlan's career and one of his finest Munster performances came in their must-win final pool game against Northampton at Thomond Park last year.

The Saints arrived in Limerick confident of dumping Munster out of the competition but the hosts met their physical challenge head on with Quinlan omnipresent, fielding a succession of Shane Geraghty bombs, claiming line-out ball, driving back Northampton's big runners and making charges of his own. The post-match gong was a formality.

The lows

Hand of fate

Munster went into their 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final as overwhelming favourites but were wiped by Leinster, who chose Croke Park as the perfect stage to unleash their title-winning credentials.

Quinlan's hand making contact with Leo Cullen's eye led to the most challenging period of his career and a suspension which cost him the Lions tour his abilities deserved.

All black in Auckland

Having come agonisingly close to a first win over New Zealand the week before, Ireland were within a score of the All Blacks when Quinlan came off the bench during the second Test in Auckland in 2002. At the first ruck, he was yellow carded for stamping and by the time he returned the contest was over, with New Zealand going on to win 40-8.

And a bit of both ...

Scoring finish

One of the tensest occasions in Irish rugby history saw Eddie O'Sullivan's side needing to beat old adversaries Argentina in Adelaide to progress from their pool at the 2003 World Cup. It was just the type of dogfight that brings the best out of Quinlan and the flanker, starting at open-side, scored the crucial try with a lung-bursting charge to the line.

It was a euphoric moment, spoiled by the fact that Quinlan dislocated his shoulder in the act of scoring and his World Cup was over.

Irish Independent