Educated in Castleknock College and hailing originally from Dunboyne, County Meath, his rugby career continued after school as a long term member of Lansdowne FC.
The full-back-cum-winger won both Cup (1981) and League (1976) medals with the club and enjoyed involvement in Leinster final trials and the Ireland Under-23 sides before a knee injury forced him to retire at the age of 24.
Outside of rugby, his business career has seen him become one of the top franchising specialists in Ireland. After leaving school he continued his education in agricultural college and worked in the family business, before emigrating from Ireland to Australia in 1982.
In 1984 he returned home with the Snap Printing master franchise, which has since become the largest print and design group in Ireland. He continues to act as a board member to the business as well as a director of Home Instead Senior Care and CEX.
His involvement in rugby administration continued through the 1990s where he acted as Chairman of Rugby for Lansdowne FC before becoming the youngest President of the club for the 1999/00 Season.
He soon moved into the management of representative teams after that, acting as team manager for the Leinster 'A' and Under-20 teams from 2004.
He succeeded Phil Orr as manager to the Ireland Under-20 squad in 2009, winning the Six Nations title in 2010 and being involved in two Junior World Championships. He continued with the side last season, working closely with Ireland U-20 head coach Mike Ruddock.
He is married to Eugenie and has three grown children, Michael, Emily and Chloe.
Kearney will join up with the squad next week in their Limerick camp as preparations begin for the start of the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Commenting on the appointment, IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: "Michael has a proven record over the last 30 years in rugby, but also as an independent business man of a particularly high standing.
"The role is one which requires a certain amount of experience and understanding of how the rugby environment operates in Ireland, but also with regards to representative teams and how they work."
Michael Kearney said: "I am obviously delighted to take up the position as well as honoured to be involved with the team.
"My focus now is to get up to speed as soon as possible and give whatever support is necessary to Declan, the coaches and players as we head into the Championship.
"The role is multifaceted, but I am looking forward to the challenge. The transition is somewhat easier having had the experience of working with the IRFU. They have an incredibly professional staff working around the team, who will I am sure will help me adjust quickly."
Ireland head coach Declan Kidney added: "In thanking Paul for his outstanding services to the team, I'm delighted to welcome Michael into the management team and look forward to working with him.
"The role is an important part of how the team functions and it's excellent to have someone of his background to bring his organisational skills to the management group."