Iconic captain Muldoon calls time on rugby career

'I’ve been so proud to be part of it all, but every journey sadly must come to an end'

Connacht captain John Muldoon celebrates his side's first try against Oyonnax at the Sportsground in Galway last weekend. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile.

Connacht captain John Muldoon celebrates his side's first try against Oyonnax at the Sportsground in Galway last weekend. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile.

Connacht Rubgy legend and captain John Muldoon has announced he will retire from the professional game after 17 incredible years with the club. The 35-year-old, in his seventh year as captain, announced his decision to retire at the end of this season via an emotional tweet yesterday.

His Tweet read:“17 years. 320 games. Broken bones. Big wins. Bad losses. Dozens of teammates. Fewer coaches. Europe. Russia. Celtic league. Pro12. Pro14. Flights. Buses. Friends. Supporters. I’ve been so proud to be part of it all, but every journey sadly must come to an end...”

His wife Lorna, whom he married last year, followed up with her own: “ Very proud of this fella.”

Muldoon has achieved legendary status in the province, having devoted half his life playing for Connacht. He started as an academy player in 2001 while studying engineering and playing with Galwegians, before signing his first contract in 2003. At the height of his career, having been capped for Ireland, he turned down lucrative offers abroad to remain with his home province.

Muldoon, describing himself as a “proud Connacht man”, believed this week was a good time to announce his decision with Connacht having no games scheduled, and the squad is on holiday.

“I have been on an incredible journey, but sadly all good things come to an end and for me that time is the end of this season. I have been honoured and humbled to wear the Connacht jersey, and particularly to be given the opportunity to captain my home province,” he said. "I’d like to thank everyone at Connacht Rugby, especially coaches and players both past and present, also, to my wife Lorna and my wonderful family for their constant support down through the years.

The Connacht supporters have also been incredible throughout my career and have made the Sportsground a fortress where I have always been immensely proud to play and represent this fantastic province. “I am determined to finish my career on a high, and for the remainder of the season I will be doing everything in my power to bring further success to Connacht,” he said.

No other senior player has struggled as much through the toughest of days with Connacht as the Portumna man, whose faith and fortitude were finally rewarded when he lifted the PRO 12 trophy three seasons ago.

Steeped in GAA in his home town of Portumna - his family has bred All Ireland hurlers and footballers down through the years - Muldoon’s first taste of rugby came courtesy of brother Ivan who started playing with Portumna Community College. A few months later he was playing in the school’s junior cup team. That was in 1997.

Since then “Mul” has become the most capped Connacht player of all time, making his 300th appearance against Leinster last April. Attributing his longevity to his “enjoyment” of the game, Muldoon carved his reputation as a Connacht warrior, leading with his head, tackling with his heart and his soul, and loyal to the last - a one-club man.

Paying tribute, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said Muldoon had shown “unwavering commitment and loyalty to Connacht Rugby”.

“On behalf of Connacht Rugby, and indeed the people of Connacht, I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Muldoon for the incredible contribution he has made both on and off the pitch, and in particular the manner in which he has represented his home province over a long and illustrious career. John Muldoon has represented the people of Connacht with massive pride and he epitomises everything that is great about the west of Ireland. John has always remained a very humble, grounded and honest individual, someone we are proud to call one of our own, and someone I am extremely proud to have worked with during my own time here. I wish him and his family all the very best in his retirement from the game and in the years beyond.”

Muldoon will be back in action when Connacht return to the Sportsground to play Ospreys on February 9.

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