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Dave Kearney confirms Leinster exit, pays tribute to brother Rob

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former Ireland winger Dave Kearney has called time on his near 14-year career at Leinster, announcing he will leave the Irish province at the end of the current season. However, there was no indication whether the soon-to-be 34-year-old is retiring from the game or seeking out a move overseas.

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Older brother Rob brought the curtain down on his stellar career by playing a Super Rugby Pacific season for Western Force in 2021 before his retirement and it now remains to be seen if Dave will do something similar or else call it quits after exiting Leinster.

Kearney, who played 19 times for Ireland, has won 185 caps for Leinster to date since his debut against Dragons in May 2009, winning the Heineken Champions Cup, Amlin Cup and six PRO12/14 trophies. He started his rugby with Dundalk and represented Lansdowne in the All-Ireland League.

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A statement read: “It’s been nearly 14 years to the day since I first had the privilege of wearing the Leinster Rugby jersey for the first time. As I reflect on my career, the overriding feeling I get is that of gratitude. Walking through the doors of Leinster rugby to join the academy in 2008, I never could have dreamt I’d still be here almost 15 years on.

“To have had such a long career playing for the team I grew up supporting, as well as representing my country has been a dream come true. It’s been an incredible journey, filled with some of the most special moments of my life, ones that I will cherish deeply. There have been plenty of challenges along the way, ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’m grateful for all the people that made this possible, in particular, my parents. To mum and dad, nobody has felt the highs and lows of professional sport more than you. Thank you so much for your unwavering support and dedication to me throughout my time here. You have both always been there for me and sacrificed so much in order for me to do what I’ve done.

“To my siblings Richard and Sara thank you also for your love and support. You have followed me all over the world in blue and in green and having you guys there to celebrate and share these great days with me has made them even more special.

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“To Rob, you have minded me every step of the way, from my first day in Leinster right until this point. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have reached today without you by my side. Being able to share the pitch with you for both Leinster and Ireland have been the most memorable moments of my life. To Becca, thank you for all your sacrifices and support. I can’t wait for our next chapter together.

“To my Leinster family, thank you. To all the staff and coaches I have worked with, in particular, Michael Cheika, who gave me my first cap, Joe Schmidt, Matt O’Connor, Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster – thank you for always believing in me.

“To all the players I have had the honour of sharing the pitch with, thanks to each of you. You have all helped me along the way in some shape or form and made me a better player. I’ve built some amazing relationships along the way, ones that I’ll have for the rest of my life.

“Thanks to all in Dundalk RFC for your support, the place where I first picked up a rugby ball. To all the people and coaches I have worked with in Clongowes Wood College and Lansdowne FC, you also played a huge part in helping me grow and develop both as a player and person.

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“To all the strength and conditioning staff, the doctors and physios, thank you. You have all helped me through some tough periods of my career. You have all worked incredibly hard to keep me on the pitch, and I’ll always be very grateful for that.

“Lastly to all the Leinster fans, thank you for your constant support and encouragement throughout my time here. We as players are truly blessed to have you as our supporters. I’ll miss the feeling of running out to a packed RDS or Aviva the most.

“In the meantime, there is still plenty more to be done. I’m going to enjoy every moment I have during my last few weeks as Leinster a player and I’m going to do all I can to help this team finish the season on a high.”

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