Connacht announce departure of a further six senior players

31-year-old Paddy McAllister confirms his retirement after leaving Sportsground

Paddy McAllister is one of six senior players to leave Connacht. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Paddy McAllister is one of six senior players to leave Connacht. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Connacht have confirmed the departures of six more players from their senior squad after finishing their 2020-21 campaign with last Friday’s 26-19 bonus point win over the Ospreys at the Sportsground.

Already resigned to losing Quinn Roux, rumoured to be joining Toulon, the retiring Stephen Fitzgerald and the Exeter-bound centre Sean O’Brien, also leaving this summer will be outhalf Conor Dean (23), scrumhalf Stephen Kerins (25), fullback Colm de Buitléar (23), props Conor Kenny (24) and Paddy McAllister (31), and former Irish Under-20 lock Cillian Gallagher (23).

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend commented: “There will always be comings and goings in Professional rugby. I’d like to wish all the players every success in the future, whether they are looking to further their playing careers or go down a new path. They have made a lot of sacrifices, particularly in the last year while we as a group dealt with the pandemic, so I thank them for that also.

“They will always be welcome back to The Sportsground.”

The province’s statement also added that “Connacht Rugby are continuing to shape the Professional squad for next season and further announcements will be made in due course.”

Following this announcement, McAllister confirmed his retirement from rugby.

McAllister joined Connacht in the summer of 2019 following spells at Gloucester, Aurillac and Ulster, and made 19 appearances in a two-year stint at the club.

“I would like to announce my retirement from rugby. The last 14 years have been a dream come true,” said McAllister in a statement.

“I have had the privilege to play for four amazing clubs in Ulster, Aurillac, Gloucester and Connacht. I’m lucky that every club I played for had the most passionate fans who travelled everywhere with the team.”

McAllister comes from a missionary family and he spent the early years of his life in the Congo after his grandparents moved there in the 1950s, His parents still live there and it was only when he moved to Armagh as a 14-year-old that he began playing rugby. He went through the age-grades with Ireland, representing the U-20s at a Junior World Championship alongside Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray in 2009.

“This little kid growing up in the jungle of Congo never dreamed of having the opportunity to play professional rugby and it’s nothing I took for granted. I have had some real lows and even greater highs, lost friends, suffered career-ending injuries and I am proud to have been able to work through them all to keep the dream alive.

“I would like to thank all the coaches I have played under since I was 16 to help me make this dream a reality. Through this pandemic the world has experienced problems and heartache and my own family went through something that shook us, and family happiness is something that can’t be put anywhere but first,” he added, in reference to his wife Deborah recovering from a stroke when 35 weeks pregnant before the birth of their third child, Eliana.

“So this next chapter in my family’s life is exciting and something I’m proud to leave rugby for.

“To the medical and S&C teams and everyone who has worked in Connacht Rugby to the groundsmen up, I thank you for making this last two years so enjoyable. To my fellow players who have become lifelong friends, thanks for the memories and the brotherhood.

“To my parents who brought me to every training session and went to every game they could, thank you so much. To my brothers and sister who were always there for me for advice and guidance, thank you.

“And to my beautiful wife Deborah who has been there since I was 21, I owe everything to you. You have sacrificed more then anyone would know to allow me to play rugby and did it with style. You’re my world and I love you. To my kids Lucy, Maximus and Eliana, I hope Daddy made you proud.

“In the words of my late grandfather ‘HALLELUJAH’. Paddy.”

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