18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Accompanying him on the training pitch is the province's captain Gavin Duffy. Duffy has been out of action with a hamstring injury for almost nine weeks now but the Mayo man returned to training today in Galway.
Another welcome returnee is back rower Willie Faloon who has recovered fully from the eye injury he sustained in the 22-14 victory over French side Biarritz in December.
Centre Kyle Tonetti and winger Matt Healy are both back playing for their club Lansdowne in the Ulster Bank League this weekend and are expected to be available for selection in the RaboDirect PRO12 over the coming weeks.
December's Player of the Month Eoin McKeon has also been given the all-clear and will join his team-mates for training at the Sportsground tomorrow.
Head coach Eric Elwood is very pleased with the fitness boost to his squad, stating: "I'm delighted to see some of the lads coming back. It's early days yet but they're making good progress in training and it adds some much-needed depth to our squad as we look to compete in the remaining nine fixtures of the season."
Both Mike McCarthy and David McSharry are on international duty ahead of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations campaign. McCarthy has been named in the Ireland team to take on Wales in the opening game this Saturday in Cardiff.
Meanwhile, Darragh Leader, Frank Murphy, George Naoupu and David Nolan still feature on Connacht's injury list. The westerners travel to Wales next Friday to take on the Scarlets.