Former munster prop Tony Buckley has confirmed his retirement from professional rugby, but the 33-year-old will play on with Ulster Bank League side Kanturk next season.
The 138kg Cork man first played rugby with Kanturk at the age of 15, lending his move home a fitting symmetry after three seasons with the Sale Sharks in England.
Buckley is fondly remembered by many Munster fans, having spent six years with the province and racking up 88 appearances in that time. The 6ft 5ins tighthead also won 25 caps for Ireland over the course of his career.
Stints with Newbridge College at schools level and Shannon RFC were important stepping stones along the way, while his three campaigns with Sale saw Buckley start 15 Premiership games and three Heineken Cup ties.
I have decided to make the tough decision to retire from professional rugby,” Buckley told Munster Rugby. “I have been in talks with clubs from London and Paris and beyond but will instead play for Kanturk rugby club, the club where I started playing around 18 years ago.
“I would just like to thank my family, especially my mother and my wife for all their support throughout my career and the sacrifices they made to ensure I could continue playing until now.
“Also I would like to thank all the coaches and back-room staff who I had the pleasure of working with along the way. In all, I had a really enjoyable career, travelled the world and played for my country, with a lot of success with Kanturk, Newbridge College, Shannon and Munster.
“I am lucky that I have emerged from professional rugby relatively intact and capable of enjoying my last couple of seasons with the club I started with. For now it’s back to civilian life.”
Meanwhile, Kanturk have expressed their delight at securing the services of Buckley for their first ever season in the All-Ireland Leagues. The consistently-improving club have been greatly boosted by the arrival of Buckley ahead of their Division 2B campaign.