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Eternally grateful: Ulster star Tommy Bowe pens open letter ahead of summer retirement

Ulster and Ireland star Tommy Bowe has penned an open letter to thank supporters after it was announced that he will retire at the end of the current season.

The 33-year-old announced his decision on social media on Monday evening in the form of a poem:

He wrote:

"I’ve spent most of my career in Belfast,

At first George said I wasn’t very fast,

I eventually found my gears,

Had some incredible years,

But it’s time to tell you - this is my last!"

Now the Monaghan man has composed a longer thank-you message and has harked back to one of his finest moments on international duty - although it wasn't on the pitch.

Here's his thank-you letter in full:

"As the saying goes, time stands still for no man (or sportsman). And so, 14 years on from signing my first professional contract with Ulster Rugby, I feel very fortunate to be able to say this will be my final season.

"I could never have imagined the career professional rugby has given me and I am so grateful to my close friends, family and agent Ryan Constable for their incredible support throughout the highs and lows. My beautiful wife Lucy has been my rock and little daughter Emma my newest inspiration.

"I want to thank everyone involved in Ulster Rugby, the Ospreys, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions for giving me the chance to live a dream I never thought possible. I'd also like to thank all those at Royal School Armagh, Queen's University and Monaghan RFC minis, where it all began.

"To my teammates; the bond of going out onto the field together and the most special feeling in a changing room after a win are what I am going to treasure in the last few months as I will miss them most. I've met some incredible people and made friends that will hopefully last a lifetime.

"Lastly to you - the supporters - thank you for your backing throughout my career. From my singing Black Velvet Band (never again I promise!) to your continued messages of kindness and unwavering support, despite my injuries in latter years, I am eternally grateful.

"Who knows what the future will hold...

"Definitely not singing!"

And while we're on that topic...

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