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Injury-ravaged Hogan forced to hang up boots

Leinster's past, present and future collided yesterday with Trevor Hogan's widely expected decision to retire swiftly following tyro Sean O'Brien's receipt of the Bank of Ireland December Player of the Month award.

Ex-Munster player Hogan has been racked by knee problems and his seasonal bow against Dragons in November has proved to be his swansong appearance in a professional capacity.

"It's been a tough battle over the last couple of seasons with my injury, but after my last game, the problem worsened to the point that I couldn't continue," said the 31-year-old, who has been capped four times for Ireland.

"It is never an easy thing to accept, but I'm thankful for all the support from my team-mates and the medical, management and coaching staff at Leinster, as well as Dr Ray Moran, who has helped me greatly over the past few years.

"It was an honour to play for Leinster and I would like to thank all the supporters for their backing over my career."

Hogan's provincial loyalties were professionally split -- 59 appearances for Leinster narrowly trumping his initial 57 appearances in a red jersey; sadly, he rarely established himself with either.

A CBS Nenagh schoolboy, the popular second-rower won an AIL with Shannon in 2002 before linking up with Munster.

Three of his four Irish caps came on summer tours to Japan (two) in 2005 and Argentina (2007), the latter in Santa Fe mere months after he came off the bench as Ireland vainly chased the Six Nations Championship title during their St Patrick's Day Rome romp against Italy.

Now the seventh Leinster player to retire since last summer, Hogan's injury woes were compounded by the steady stream of talent emerging from Leinster's academy in recent years, a fact alluded to by award winner O'Brien.

"The academy really helped me, both physically and mentally, and it gave me a great insight into what the demands are to becoming a professional rugby player," said the Tullow native, who is on stand-by to replace Jamie Heaslip at No 8 in this weekend's Heineken Cup clash with Saracens at the RDS.

"The lads that have come through there recently, like Dominic Ryan and Rhys Ruddock, are on our heels now and it's good to have that competition in the squad."

Irish Independent