DUBLIN Brian O'Driscoll's rugby career ended on a bittersweet note on Saturday when he left the field injured after just nine minutes of the RaboPRO12 final which his Leinster side went on to win 34-12 against Glasgow.
O'Driscoll, the world's most capped rugby international and regarded as one of the greatest to play the game, limped off to a standing ovation from his home fans at a packed RDS to end a glittering 15-year career.
Leinster's second successive title was O'Driscoll's fourth triumph in the annual league played between teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, to add to three Heineken Cups and two Six Nations championships, one of them a Grand Slam.
"I always say you can't plan anything in this game, what happens happens and it wasn't going to be a good day for me today but this is what it's about," O'Driscoll said in a pitchside interview, surrounded by victorious team mates.
O'Driscoll, Ireland's record try scorer who also captained his country a record 83 times - more than twice as often as anyone else - ended his international career on a perfect note when he won Ireland's second Six Nations title in 29 years.
He played his last game in green in the same Paris arena where he exploded on to the global stage 14 years ago with one of the most famous hat-tricks.
The 35-year old centre made a world record 141 appearances for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions and although he finally tasted a Lions series triumph on his fourth tour in Australia last year, he was dropped for the final, series-winning test.
Dominated for much of the first half by the impressive visitors, Leinster prevailed with the kind of attacking rugby O'Driscoll would be proud of as Shane Jennings, Gordon D'Arcy and Zane Kirchner, twice, finished off excellent team tries.
O'Driscoll re-emerged to accept the trophy alongside lock Leo Cullen who was also playing in his final match, retiring as the only man to captain a team to three European titles. The pair were lifted aloft by team mates in a victorious a lap of honour.
"I'm about to be unemployed in a month so I'll take what's going," O'Driscoll joked when asked what the future holds.
(Editing by Rex Gowar)