Shannon’s Andrew Thompson, one of the most decorated club players with nine All-Ireland League Division 1 titles to his name, has announced his retirement from playing rugby.
After struggling to get back to full fitness over the last few years, centre/out-half Andrew Thompson has officially hung up his boots.
At the tender age of 37, Thompson’s decision to retire comes on the back of a season of frustration. During the 2010/11 campaign, he spent more time trying to get match fit and meaningfully contribute to the club which he has been involved with since 1991.
The player himself explained: “I have tried my best through the last three years with my back injury to get back playing but I’m afraid it has got the better of me.
“I could get up to about 85% but the last 15% required for full match fitness seemed a bridge too far!
“Either ways, I suppose, given the fact that I am 37-years-old now I can’t complain with my innings! However, it is still bitterly disappointing that I could not contribute to the team properly over the last three years as my hunger was definitely there.
“The mind definitely said ‘yes’, but the body said ‘no’ and now it’s time to listen to the body.”
Thompson has, without doubt, been the epitome of an Irish rugby club player over his lengthy and highly decorated career. His monumental achievement of winning nine All-Ireland League Division 1 titles is a record that is highly unlikely to be surpassed.
A native of Borris-in-Ossory, County Laois, his first introduction to Shannon came in 1991 as part of an Under-18 team that went on to be crowned Munster champions. His pedigree as a player of distinction was very evident in those early years.
It did not take too long before he was involved with Shannon’s senior side and the subsequent glorious four All-Ireland League triumphs in-a-row where he was only one of three players to play in all 48 matches of that unequalled succession of victories.
In an era where amateur and professional rugby were sidling up to each other, Thompson was to be recognised by Munster where he wore the red jersey in the infancy of the Heineken Cup when the Red Army was only slowly recruiting their foot soldiers.
While a senior international cap was not forthcoming, he did represent his country at various levels including Under-21, Colleges, Students and most recently in the Ireland Club International side of 2007.
A brief spell in France and then with Bedford in England to play professional rugby broke his tenure with Shannon in the late 1990s, but his return to Ireland saw him installed as Shannon captain for the 2000/01 season where he lead the club to Munster Senior Cup glory.
A further five All-Ireland League winners’ medals were to be added to his honours list before injuries cut short his stellar career with the Limerick giants.
Shannon’s President Dr. Darragh Little, who as club doctor saw Thompson’s influence in Shannon at first hand, was keen to pay tribute to such a remarkable player.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that Andrew Thompson will go down in history as one of this country’s greatest ever club servants,” he said.
“His achievement of winning nine All-Ireland League medals, along with an All-Ireland Cup and eight Munster Senior Cup medals, is a record that will probably never be beaten and it’s a record that should be recognised.
“I saw his development from a young buck to a highly influential figure in the senior side, and the club in general over the years and his ability on the pitch is matched equally with his gentlemanly demeanour off it.
“On behalf of Shannon RFC, I thank him wholeheartedly for his enormous contribution to the club.”
With retirement now a reality for Thompson, his initial intention is to concentrate on his career and begin a master’s degree, but he will continue in his current role with the North Munster Under-17 Development squad and continue with IRFU Coaching courses.
Thompson summed up his rugby career with Shannon and the opportunities that the club has afforded him, stating: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my rugby career with Shannon RFC – I have met and married my wife Sinead, introduced my friends and family to Limerick and Munster rugby.
“I’ve made lifelong friends and companions and have been lucky enough to share in the honour of winning a few trophies too along the way.
“I have also been honoured at various representative level and it’s by playing with Shannon RFC that has enabled me to do this.
“I have shared the table side at weddings and the grave side at funerals with many of my Shannon friends and colleagues.
“I have been honoured to wear the black and blue jersey each and every time I put it on…so, all in all, I’d like to thank Shannon RFC for everything this great club has given me.”
Related Links –