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Double centurion Marshall to hang up boots after this season

By Michael Sadlier

Paul Marshall has spoken of his sadness in finally calling time on his lengthy professional career at Ulster at the end of this season.

The 32-year-old scrum-half is expected to make only his tenth appearance of the campaign tomorrow evening when Ulster host Glasgow Warriors at the Kingspan Stadium.

It could also be his last outing in an Ulster shirt in Belfast so Marshall, who if selected will be playing his 205th game for the province, will want to sign off in appropriate style.

"I would love to continue playing," said Marshall. "But there comes a point for everyone to move on and seek new challenges and that time has arrived for me.

"Ulster Rugby has been a massive part of my life and I'm grateful to have been involved with the squad for the last 12 years.

"There's no doubt that I will be sad to leave as I love the club and the people here," he added.

The former Methodist College pupil made his senior Ulster debut in September 2006, the season after the province had secured the then Celtic League title.

Renowned for his speed off the mark and ability to sniff out vital tries, Marshall has managed 24 touchdowns during his long Ulster career which now, along with that of Tommy Bowe, is about to come to an end.

He also managed to feature at international level and picked up three Ireland caps in 2013 though he was never a starter in the green shirt.

Marshall's Ireland debut came in the Six Nations defeat to Italy in that year before he went on to make two more appearances off the bench that summer in the tour to Canada and the USA.

Ruan Pienaar's arrival at Ulster in 2010 meant that Marshall was largely consigned to backing him up unless the South African was either away on international duty, injured or playing at 10.

Though there were rumours that Marshall might be tempted to go elsewhere, he remained a one-club man and stayed on to see out his time at his home province.

Further commenting on his retirement, Marshall said: "I've been incredibly proud to represent the people of Ulster and it's brought great joy to me personally, but also to my family and friends.

"I'd like to thank those closest to me for the support they have offered throughout my career.

"I'm also extremely thankful to the players, the staff and the supporters for the memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

Ulster Operations Director and former playing colleague Bryn Cunningham offered his tribute to Marshall and said: "Paul has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside.

"It's been brilliant to see him develop into a player that would ultimately go on to represent his home province over 200 times.

"He has delivered some big performances in an Ulster jersey over the years and he can be proud of his playing career.

"I know that Paul has the skills and personality to be a success in his career outside of rugby."

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