Friday night’s British & Irish Cup final in Cork is likely to be the last time supporters will see hooker Denis Fogarty wear the Munster jersey.
Denis Fogarty will be leaving Munster at the end of the season to take up a two-year contract with the French Pro D2 side Aurillac coached by former Ireland international Jeremy Davidson.
The 28-year-old Fogarty hails from Cashel, County Tipperary, and is the younger bother of Leinster Elite Player Development Officer, John.
The hooker was offered terms to remain with Munster whom he has played for since 2004, but opted for the offer from Davidson instead.
Educated at Rockwell College, where he gained Ireland Schools international honours, he came into the Munster squad shortly after appearing in the 2004 Under-21 World Championship final and made his senior debut off the bench against the Borders at Musgrave Park in November 2004.
His first start came against Connacht at Thomond Park in December 2005 and he ended that season with a Heineken Cup winners’ medal to his credit, on the bench in the final win over Biarritz Olympique.
Sinced then he has added a second Heineken Cup winners’ medal, a Churchill Cup and three league winners’ medals. He played his 90th senior game for Munster against Aironi last month.
An infectious humour was one reason for his huge popularity within the Munster squad, a popularity that was in equal proportion to the respect he commanded from both the senior players and the new generation.
Donncha O’Callaghan played in the back row when Fogarty made his first start and is adamant that his departure will be keenly felt.
“He’s Munster to the core. An incredible character who brings so much to the squad both on and off the field,” he said.
“He’ll be sorely missed, maybe much more than some people might imagine right now. But he goes with the best wishes of everyone in the squad.”
Fogarty himself admits that the decision to leave was not an easy one. “You don’t leave a squad like Munster without giving it a great deal of thought. It’s been a huge part of my life and I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” he explained.
“I’ve learnt a lot and made lifelong friends who I will miss. The opportunity was there for me to remain but I feel the time is right for me to look for a new challenge.
“I’m grateful to Jeremy Davidson for providing me with that challenge and it’s one I’m looking forward to.”
Before his departure, Fogarty will be hoping to be a British & Irish Cup winner with Munster ‘A’ when they take on Cross Keys in Friday’s decider at Musgrave Park (kick-off 5.30pm).