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O’Halloran Extends Connacht Contract, While Delahunt Announces Retirement

O’Halloran Extends Connacht Contract, While Delahunt Announces Retirement

Connacht's Tiernan O'Halloran, Finlay Bealham and Shane Delahunt are pictured together following last December's interprovincial encounter with Ulster at the Sportsground ©INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht’s longest serving player, Tiernan O’Halloran, has extended his contract with the province for the 2023/24 season.

Full-back O’Halloran made his debut as an 18-year-old in October 2009, and next season will become his fifteenth in the westerners’ professional set-up.

The Clifden native has made 218 provincial appearances, as well as winning six Ireland caps. He was a try scorer in the 2016 Guinness PRO12 final win over Leinster.

Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins commented: “Tiernan has seen it all during his time with us so it’s great that we can count on that experience again next season.

“Some of his performances this year have been among his very best, and I’m sure he’ll continue to play a valuable role as we continue to grow and build as a squad.”

Meanwhile, O’Halloran’s team-mate Shane Delahunt has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old hooker joined Connacht on a trial basis in the summer of 2014, having played at underage level with Leinster and the Ireland Under-20s.

He signed his first professional contract two year later, and over the course of his career has made 125 appearances for the province.

In a statement confirming his retirement, Birr native Delahunt admitted: “The last nine years at Connacht have been incredible for me and my family, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.

“After being here so long there will be too many people to thank, but there are a few special people I’d like to say thank you to now.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank Nigel Carolan and Jimmy Duffy for the opportunity they allowed me all those years ago. I’ll be forever grateful.

“I’d also like to thank Dave Hanly and Barry O’Brien for the incredibly hard work they’ve put in with me over the last year to get me back from injury.

To my wife-to-be Laura, parents and brother along with my skills coach and great friend Jeff Carter. You have all been with me from the start and I’m hugely grateful for the sacrifices you have given, to allow me to chase what I love.

“To all the fans and supporters of the province, you are incredible people and I thank you for all for your support over the years. It never wavered, no matter the conditions.

“Unfortunately I’d love to be playing on with this brilliant group of lads and for this massive team but that’s not to be. That said, I want to wish the players and the people of Connacht every success in the years ahead.”