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paul o’connell

Rugby star Paul O'Connell is bowing out of the sport for good, he confirmed this morning.

Having sustained a severe hamstring injury playing for Ireland during last October's Rugby World Cup match against France, he announced his retirement today "with deep regret."

The former Irish captain had hoped to kick off a new playing career with French club Toulon this season, but with his recovery taking longer than anticipated, he has been forced to cancel his contract without playing a game,

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months," O'Connell said in a statement today.
 
"Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon. 

"Unfortunately this will no longer be possible. I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success. 

"I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.

"Special thanks must go to my wife Emily for her unwavering support through the good and the bad and to my parents Michael and Shelagh.
 
"Lastly I would like to thank everyone who has supported the teams I have been a part of. The support you have shown me is humbling and an immense source of pride for both myself and my family."

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In the end, it just wasn't meant to be: Ireland have been beaten by an inspired Argentine team in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

The score? A resounding 43-20.

Though with so many influential players – Paul O'Connell, Sean O'Brien, Johnny Sexton, and Peter O'Mahony – missing from today's game, ultimately Ireland were beaten by the better team on the day.

And the Boys In Green didn't make things easy for themselves from the outset either. They never lead the game and within 13 minutes were trailing by 17 points.

Still, they went into the dressing room a more reasonable 20-10 down following a fantastic try by Luke Fitzgerald. 

Jodi Murphy along with an Ian Henderson conversion had Ireland within three-points of their rivals, but by the end, Argentina had stormed home with two more tries to really seal the deal. 

They now face either Scotland or Australia in the semi-final.

Despite being currently ranked third in the world – with a high of a second-place position also attained earlier this year – it seems that the squad struggle to produce their best rugby at world cup level, and once again have failed to progress into the final four.

In four years' time, Ireland will travel to Japan for the 2019 contest – where they will hope they can finally break that pattern. 

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Paul O’Connell is set to make his return to the Irish camp ahead of Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Wait, what?

Before you get too excited, it is most important to note that the Irish team captain is not actually going to be playing any rugby.  Instead, the Limerick man will offer his vast experience and leadership skills to the team.

A mere 24 hours after going under the knife to treat his tournament ending hamstring injury, because that is how Paulie does things.

Team manager Michael Kearney has said that the nation's favourite redhead had remained very involved in the team’s preparations before he set off for London to undergo surgery.

“Paul came back into camp on Monday and spent the first couple of days in camp – he was in good form and was contributing to the meetings."

"He left for London this morning where he is having an operation later today and we are hopeful that Paul will rejoin us back here in Cardiff either tomorrow evening or on Saturday.”

The Irish Times reports that Paul said to be bitterly disappointed in having his World Cup appearance cut short- as were the emotional rugby fans up and down the country.

In the mean time, Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton are expected to train on Friday. No decision has been made on whether or not to appeal Sean O’Brien’s one week ban for striking Pascal Pape.

“Keith Earls first of all, he sat out training on Tuesday, basically we’re just managing his load – but he will train fully tomorrow,” added Kearney.

He said it "took the guts of seven hours" in order to go through all the evidence. He said that they are "reflecting" on the written report before any further decisions are made.

2015 Rugby World Cup

Kearney added that the team are incredibly grateful for the support of the fans. He said the atmosphere in in the Millennium stadium was like having a “16th man”.

“I don’t think anyone has ever heard Ireland’s call sung with such passion and gusto it really was spine tingling."

Good to know all those vocal exercises are paying off- even if we are just roaring at a TV screen.

 

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Paul O'Connell's World Cup bid is sadly over, with surgery for a hamstring injury ruling him out of any future games.

Mike McCarthy will replace the Irish captain, making him the second Leinster player in two days to be called up to the World Cup squad.

O'Connell was taken off just before half time during Sunday's clash against France, and was due for a scan yesterday. The IRFU this morning confirmed that he would not be returning to the squad.

Speaking immediately after the match, Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt admitted things didn't "look great" for Paul, who was administered oxygen before being stretchered off the pitch while in visible pain.

Also out of the World Cup is Peter O'Mahony, who suffered knee ligament damage during Sunday's game. He'll be replaced by Leinster backrow Rhys Ruddock.

Even with the loss of numerous players during Sunday's game, Ireland are now top of their pool after a 24-9 victory over France.

However it's a triple whammy of bad news this morning as Sean O'Brien is set to miss out on at least one World Cup game for disciplinary reasons.

Despite later being named as man of the match, O'Brien was cited for striking French player Pascal Pape in the early stages of Sunday's game.

The minimum suspension for striking is a generally two-week ban, but it's hoped this will be lowered due to O'Brien's good disciplinary record.

However at the very least he will be absent for this Sunday's clash with Argentina.

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The Irish rugby squad topped the World Cup pool yesterday with a 24-9 victory over France, but the prognosis isn't good for some of their best players.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted that it "doesn't look great" for Paul O'Connell, who was taken off just before half-time with a hamstring injury.

Jonathan Sexton was also taken off at the 25-minute mark with a suspected abductor tear, while Peter O'Mahony ended up with a twisted knee later in the second half.

O'Connell was given oxygen and stretchered off the pitch, clearly in extreme pain, with many speculating his World Cup bid could be over.

"It looks like an upper hamstring. He was in over the ball and just got hit down and through," Schmidt said at a post-match conference, admitting he didn't think the captain's chances were too good.

“For him not to get up and into the defensive line when we were under pressure…. That’s why it doesn’t augur well for next week.

"You just never say never with Paul, so we’re just going to cross our fingers for the next 24 hours."

O'Connell is due to have a scan today once some of the swelling on his injury has gone down, with a definite decision to be made tomorrow.

The 35-year-old played his last game on Irish soil at the end of August before leading the team to Cardiff for the World Cup.

Ireland's flanker Chris Henry said O'Connell had the team "in tears" with an inspirational pre-match speech.

"Paul spoke incredibly well in the changing room," he said.

"He basically had everyone in tears before the match, so it's a brilliant day to be involved in it, and to top the group is incredible feeling."

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He presided over the Ireland team on Saturday – with the squad kicking off their World Cup campaign with a convincing 50-7 win over Canada.

But back in his hotel room, all is not so straightforward for Irish rugby caption Paul O'Connell.

The 35-year-old Limerick-man is staying along with the rest of the boys in green at the Hilton at St George's Park, a state-of-the-art English FA centre located in Staffordshire, not far from London.

The hotel is emblazoned with football memorabilia honouring past English greats – though, understandably, the decor is not entirely to Paul's tastes.

Taking to Instagram last night, he posted a snap of the wall beside his bed – a wall adorned with an action-shot of former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. 

 

Peter Shilton watching over me tonight. I'd rather Packie Bonner.

A photo posted by @paul_o_connell5 on

"Peter Shilton watching over me tonight," he wrote. "I'd rather Packie Bonner," he added referring, of course, to the Donegal goalie whose famous penalty save sent Ireland into the quarter-finals of Italia '90. 

Mr O'Connell has captained Munster, Ireland and the Lions previously, and with 105 caps, is among the most-experienced players currently taking part in the Rugby World Cup, which runs until October 31.

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Rugby legend Paul O'Connell said goodbye to the Aviva Stadium for the last time today, as he played his final game on Irish soil.

It may have been a disappointing 10-16 defeat to a strong Welsh side for Ireland, but spirits were still high as Paul was given a hero's farewell by the crowds of fans. The Irish number 5 even led his young son Paddy onto the pitch, holding him up to wave to the thousands crowding the stands.

Fans have been taking to social media in their droves to pay tribute to the Irish captain, and we're getting a little teary eyed saying our goodbyes…

 

#rugby #irevwal #paulie @irishrugby #legend

A video posted by Osizzler (@osizzler) on

Of course Paul's rugby career isn't quote over yet, as he has the Rugby World Cup ahead, with Ireland's first game against Canada taking place on September 19th.

"The fans have been incredible for us and throughout my career. I've had an amazing time. Hopefully they can add to it at the World Cup. There will be a lot of Irish people at the Irish games. Hopefully we can give them a better performance than that," Paul said today after conceding defeat to Wales.

Thanks for the memories, Paul! 

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Aww, we’re going to cry!

Watch as BOD’s trusted playmates bid him farewell in this heartwarming tribute by Adidas.

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