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'I'm devastated and heartbroken': Connacht's Stephen Fitzgerald retires at the age of 25

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Three operations on a serious knee injury have failed to save the career of Connacht back three player Stephen Fitzgerald, the 25-year-old who has announced his retirement after getting struck down while playing for the province at Irish rivals Leinster in January 2020.  

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His contract expires at the end of this season and having been advised to retire on medical grounds, he had decided to call it quits. It was December 2018 when Fitzgerald first linked up with Connacht, joining on a loan deal that resulted in a two-year contract in summer 2019.

Fitzgerald made 18 appearances in total, scoring two tries, and he has outlined his devastation at losing his battle to regain fitness after so long on the Connacht sidelines. 

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“I’m devastated and heartbroken to be finishing my career at the end of the season,” he said on the Connacht website. “The last two years have been extremely tough with three operations on my knee and unfortunately this is a battle that I’m going to lose.

“The one thing I’m massively proud of and gives me peace of mind moving forward is knowing I have worked the hardest I ever have in my life trying to get back. I’ve been lucky to have the amazing medical staff in Connacht looking after me, who all went above and beyond anything I ever expected. They always had my best interests at heart and I will always be grateful for their efforts.

“Growing up I dreamed of playing rugby at the highest level. I have been lucky to experience this with both Munster and Connacht. I’m extremely grateful to all my coaches and teammates for the amazing memories from my school days with Ard Scoil, with my club Shannon, to representing my country underage and finally to playing for both Munster and Connacht. 

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“The thrill I got from playing in front of family, friends and fans in a packed Thomond Park or The Sportsground is like nothing I have experienced before. I want to thank all the fans who have supported me and welcomed me with open arms along the way. Being fortunate enough to play for you and have your support is something that will always make me proud.

“Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. I’m extremely lucky to have amazing friends and family who have supported me. My family and girlfriend have been there for me more than they will ever realise and I just hope I’ve made them proud of what I’ve done. I look forward to being a fan and enjoying getting back in the stands with ye all soon.”

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PRO 14    

'I'm devastated and heartbroken': Connacht's Stephen Fitzgerald retires at the age of 25

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