Ulster lock Mick Kearney announces retirement

Former Leinster, Connacht and Zebre forward to hang up his boots at the end of the season

Ulster lock Mick Kearney has announced that this season will be his last as a professional rugby player after deciding to retire once the province’s URC campaign comes to an end. The former Ireland U20 international, who has also played for Leinster, Connacht and Italian side Zebre, hangs up his boots after an 11-year career that began with native province Leinster.

Two stints with the Dublin side were sandwiched either side of a five year tenure at Connacht. Leinster won both the Champions Cup and Pro14 titles during Kearney’s time with the club before he moved on to Zebre in 2019.

This season saw the Dublin-born lock line out in the white of Ulster but after it was confirmed that he will be released at the end of the season, the 31 year-old has decided to call it a day. “All good things come to an end, said Kearney in a Twitter statement.

“So with that, this will be my last season in professional rugby. It’s been an incredible journey for me, and I’m so grateful to the teams, who decided to take a leap of faith, and give me the opportunity to live out a boyhood dream.

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“Thank you to the incredible coaches, medical teams, strength and conditioning staff, and back room teams, in the environments that I was lucky enough to be a part of.

“To my teammates over the years. The memories made, and the experiences shared, on and off the pitch, are something I’ll always cherish.

“Last but not least, thank you to my family. You’ve been there for the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and everything in between. Without your love, support, and guidance. This really wouldn’t of been possible.

“Whilst the unknown is somewhat daunting, and I’m sure the next chapter will have its challenges. I’m happy to be able to finish on my own terms, and I’m excited for what’s to come.

“Thanks for the memories.”

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist