Thursday 17 January 2019

Departing Muldoon insists he has no regrets over his Connacht loyalty


John Muldoon, left, and Conor Carey during Connacht squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
John Muldoon, left, and Conor Carey during Connacht squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Daragh Small

Connacht captain John Muldoon insists he has no regrets ending his career as a one-club man even though his loyalty to his home province was to the detriment to his 'bank balance'.

While he had offers during his 15-year career for more lucrative deals at other teams in Ireland and abroad, the Portumna man insists it would have "killed" him if he had left the province and missed the chance to lift the PRO12 trophy after the 2016 Grand Final.

Muldoon says that while it will be emotional to bring the curtain down on his playing days on Saturday, he is really looking forward to linking up with Pat Lam in Bristol and kicking off his coaching career in earnest.

The 35-year-old will play his 254th league game, and 327th in total, for Connacht when they clash with Leinster at the Sportsground.

It brings an end to an iconic career in Galway but Muldoon is excited about what lies ahead at Ashton Gate next season as he links up with Lam and several former Connacht players and coaches as Bristol return to the Premiership.

"I spoke to Kieran Keane in November. I told him I was retiring and I was looking to get a coaching role outside of Connacht. And KK said it would be a good option for me, to break the cord," said Muldoon.

Muldoon added: "Emotionally to get away from Connacht and experience something different, a new league, different people, it's a huge opportunity for me.

"The fact that I know Pat Lam already will help. I know Conor McPhillips as well. Going into a job where I know two people will make that transition easier."

Muldoon will be defence coach at Bristol, who were promoted to the English Premiership this season as Championship winners. But first he will look to help Connacht to their first clean sweep of the Irish provinces at the Sportsground in one campaign.

In his 15-year career with the province, Muldoon was approached by teams from Ireland and abroad, but he believes he made the right decision to stay and captain the side to their first ever silverware.

"I'm proudest of being a one-club man. Staying here when there were a lot of dark clouds. It would have killed me not to be a part of a team that lifted a trophy," said Muldoon.

"I had the opportunity to go in Ireland, England and a couple of places in France. Maybe if I was a little bit older I might have took the French option. It was definitely more lucrative to go elsewhere.

"I am 35 years of age, I have probably got 30 years to go out and make some money. I have memories with friends and family. The pride of where I am from, which probably has affected my bank balance.

"But life is for living. If I was stuck in an apartment down in the south of France, I might have had huge regrets, if I wasn't a part of that day a couple of years ago.

"I can rest easy at night knowing that I have enjoyed myself the utmost in Connacht. It is hard to put it into words but it's something I will miss massively."

Irish Independent

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