Horan calls it a day
Marcus Horan announced on Friday that he will retire from the game as a player at the end of the season.
The announcement, made first of all to his colleagues ahead of training in CIT, will bring the curtain down on a marvellous career stretching back 14 seasons that saw him become Munster's most capped forward (224) while also winning 67 senior international caps.
Horan earned his first senior competitive cap in the interprovincial series in August 1999 against Leinster and the first of his 84 European Cup caps came later that season when he came on as a replacement for Peter Clohessy in Munster's 32-10 win over Pontypridd at Thomond Park.
His first European Cup start came three weeks later in the exalted front company of Keith Wood and John Hayes in the historic first ever victory on French soil over Colomiers at Stade les Sept Derniers, an indication of his burgeoning talent, his comfort at playing the second half of that game at tight-head after Hayes retired injured.
He also deputised at No.3 in the subsequent games, the return against Pontypridd; after 23 minutes of the quarterfinal against Stade Francais and again in the famous semifinal win over Toulouse in Bordeaux.
He continued to serve his time to Peter Clohessy, sitting on the bench behind him in the 2000 and 2002 finals but when the 2002/03 season kicked off Horan was wearing the No.1 shirt and made it almost exclusively his own for the ensuing seven seasons playing a crucial role in Munster European Cup successes of 2006 and 2008 as well as League honours in 2003 (Celtic) and 2010 (Magners).
He won his first Six Nations cap that 2002/03 season and was the starting loosehead in all of Ireland's games when they claimed the Grand Slam in 2009.
Acknowledged And respected as one of the finest loosehead props of his generation, his football skills still sees him remain one of Munster's leading try scorers with 11 in the European Cup out of a career total of 30.
Niall O'Donovan was Munster forwards coach when Horan started and ironically is the current team manager as Horan calls time and he had this to say.
"I've known and been involved with Marcus since he was an 18-year-old starting out with Shannon and subsequently with Munster and Ireland as well," O'Donovan said.
"Throughout that time he conducted himself with dedication in a truly professional manner and in a Munster sense his contribution has been immense. He's been a great team player, an exemplary squad member, an example to others.
"I understand how difficult it must be for Marcus to make this decision, it's never an easy one, and it presents a challenge. But I've no doubt he'll meet that challenge with the same courage he showed on countless occasion in the past both on and off the field."
It was business as usual for Horan Friday as he trained with the squad in CIT, afterwards saying: " It was a tough decision to make no question of that. But I'm happy giving the options presented to me, it was the right one for me and my family.
"I've enjoyed my career no end and I'm proud of what I've achieved. To that end I'd like to thank all those involved for helping me along the way be it at club provincial or international level.
"But I couldn't have achieved what I did without the support of my family and I am grateful to them beyond words. I'm looking forward now to being able to spend a bit more time with them.
And he concluded by saying. "Talking about support, I have to mention the marvellous Munster supporters whose unwavering loyalty down the years was another huge factor in making my career so memorable. Fabulous people."