Tommy Bowe: Ireland and Ulster wing to retire at end of season

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Ireland winger Tommy Bowe announces retirement

Ireland and Ulster wing Tommy Bowe has announced that he will quit the sport at the end of this season.

The 33-year-old, who won 69 caps for Ireland after making his debut in 2004, also played for the British and Irish Lions in 2009 and 2013.

A shoulder injury sustained earlier this month ended his slim hopes of being in Ireland's Six Nations squad.

In a tweet Bowe said he "had some incredible years but it's time to tell you - this is my last!"

Tommy Bowe tweet

Bowe has endured a series of injuries in recent seasons and his current shoulder problem, picked up while playing for Ulster against Leinster, will keep him sidelined for eight weeks.

The Monaghan man made his competitive debut for Ulster against Connacht in April 2004 and enjoyed a spell with the Ospreys, before returning to his home province for the 2012-13 season.

Bowe played in all three Lions Tests against South Africa in 2009, and in two Tests in Australia in 2013.

He was a member of Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam-winning team and was named Six Nations Player of the Championship in 2010.

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Six Nations: Ireland's Bowe relives 'special' try against Wales

The former minor Gaelic footballer became the first man from Monaghan to play for Ireland in 80 years.

A career highlight came in the 2009 Six Nations with his superb catch-and-run try against Wales helped Ireland seal the Grand Slam.

Bowe scored 150 points in his long Ireland career while he has chalked up 310 points in 163 appearances for Ulster.

Bowe 'best wing I played with' - Ferris

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Stephen Ferris says Tommy Bowe was best wing he ever played with

Former Lions, Ireland and Ulster team-mate Stephen Ferris paid tribute to Bowe both as a player and a person.

"Tommy is genuine, down to earth and a real gentleman - people know him for his rugby ability, but thankfully over the years I have been able to get to know the man behind the try scoring machine that has graced fields all over the world," said Ferris, who retired in 2014 because of injury.

"Representing Ireland at such an early age didn't phase him. He went on to write his name into the history books, and no one will ever forget that incredible Grand Slam try against Wales in 2009 when he just seemed to get faster and faster when heading for the try line. Awesome.

"I know playing for Ulster, the club where he learned his trade, really meant the world to him. He is an inspirational player on and off the pitch and who will be sadly missed when he hangs the boots up at the end of the season.

"For me he's not not only a good friend, but the best winger I ever graced the pitch with."

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