10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
However, Sheahan, capped 29 times by Ireland, aggravated a pectoral muscle injury in his 163rd and final game for Munster against Ospreys in May.
"I had injured the pec against Connacht at Christmas and at that stage the medics reckoned it was a career-ending injury," the 32-year-old explained.
"But I'd been in this position before, had an operation on it in January and with the help of the Munster medical team and fitness coaches I got back into contention for selection for the end of the season games.
"However, I took another knock (pec) in that game against the Ospreys and soon after accepted what the medics were telling me and decided to call it a day."
Sheahan won the first of his 163 Munster caps against Western Samoa at Musgrave Park in November 1996 and in the course of his Munster career scored 21 tries, 11 of those in the Heineken Cup.
He made his Ireland debut in June 2000 and in 2005 became just the seventh Munster player to win 100 senior caps for the province.
In October 2005, he suffered a serious neck injury in the Heineken Cup against Sale Sharks ay Edgeley Park and although he missed the rest of that season, he staged a remarkable recovery that saw a return to competitive action in the Magners League opener in September 2006.
He played in 16 of Munster's Magners League games that season and started all six of their Heineken Cup pool games.
The following season, the Toronto-born hooker made his third Heineken Cup final matchday squad as Munster claimed the title with a win over Toulouse.
Sheahan said: "It is hard to believe I've been involved with Munster for 14 years. They've been great years.
"I've enjoyed that time immensely and would like to thank all those involved, at Munster and national level, coaches, managers, medics, fitness people for the the role they've played in my career.
"My thanks also to my family who played such an important role, their support, particularly in difficult times was so important to me."
As for the future, Sheahan, who is currently engaged doing contract work with O2, is exploring a number of business opportunities - one of which may see him use the experience gained from 14 years as a professional sportsman.
"There have been approaches, and I can see myself getting involved in sports management role looking after the welfare of sports people," he added.