Conor Armstrong has announced his retirement after a hugely successful career that saw him win 27 caps for Ireland and feature as a key member of the all-conquering North County side for almost two decades, before ending his playing days at nearby Rush.

The 38-year-old left-hander and medium pace bowler played for Ireland between 2001 and 2005, making his last appearance in their first InterContinental Cup final, that incredible come from behind win against Kenya in Namibia.

In an in-depth interview with CricketEurope, he looks back on his domestic and international career, outlining why he left North County, decided to join Rush, and why he's opted to retire at a relatively young age.

"When I left North County four years ago I hadnít planned on playing after that," he told CricketEurope.

"I had kind of lost the drive to keep playing, and the interest levels had fallen away. I also had three young kids which takes up fair bit of time!

"I couldnít really train during the week which was needed with the standard in Leinster getting better all the time, plus a lot of guys I had played with over a very successful period had moved on also, so that helped my decision to call it a day with County.

"A year later Rush approached me about giving them a dig out with coaching their first team. My young boy Callum, then aged seven, was playing under-age cricket there, and I live just two minutes from the ground so I agreed to give a helping hand to get bit of structure and do some coaching - but not to play!

"Then unfortunately circumstances changed when the father of Lynal Jansen, the club's long-time overseas professional, passed away which meant he returned to South Africa. So I then played for the remainder of that season and all last campaign with the club not having a professional.

"This year we have secured the services of South African Jurie Synman as our pro and also Jarred Barnes, who is a top quality performer, so the time is now right for me to step away permanently. We have a lot of young guys coming through too, so we have to give them experience and with myself still hanging around, this would hold these guys back."

Rush have been very successful at national level in recent times, winning six All-Ireland youth titles as well as three National Cup successes for the senior side.

Armstrong will stay in a coaching capacity at the club and is enthused to be working with such a strong crop of talented players.

"It's really exciting to be involved with Rush at this time with some really good young players coming though,Ē he said.

ďOne or two of them emerged last year, and some of them are currently away in South Africa for few months which is a excellent opportunity for them to gain some great experience and improve their game.

"With the additions of Jurie and Barnsey this will give us more experience and some real quality. This season is a pivotal one with the league structure being changed, which gives us a great opportunity to qualify for the top flight in the back-end of season which is where we want to be. I feel this is very achievable.

"It wonít be easy as clubs are spending a lot of money to achieve this also. But Iíve seen this philosophy adopted by 'buying clubs' over the years - it usually ends in tears with nothing to show!"

Looking back at his time with North County, Armstrong basks in the glory of a side that dominated Irish cricket for a decade, full of incredibly talented and seasoned performers.

"There's no doubt I had a great time over the years with North County - 17 seasons feels like a life time! I certainly feel old when I think of it!"

Armstrong was to play a pivotal role in the five Irish Senior Cup triumphs, and is the second highest run scorer in the competition, behind only John Anderson.

"We had a great side in the early 2000s which contained some super players. Andre Botha, the Mooney brothers, Reinhardt Strydom, and of course my brother Dara.

"Having those guys in the side made my job at the top of the order a lot easier just to go out and play positive cricket with out the worry of getting out early.

"We had huge depth, with the likes of Dwane Harper, Blacky Connors, Ritchie Laurence, and many more guys who never let us down.

"Over that period we won five All-Irelandís, and four Division One titles, plus a Senior and three League Cups was an incredible achievement. We played against some very good sides to pick up those trophies up. Teams such as Merrion, The Hills, Donemana, North Down, and Waringstown. We had some seriously tough games against those sides, and you had to be mentally and physically strong. You certainly knew with them that you'd been in a battle.

"You couldn't be a shrinking violet as it was no place for the meek. There were some tough exchanges and no shortage of verbals on all sides. But to to give it out you had to be prepared to take it back!"

Armstrong is happy to bow out on a winning note, and that National Cup triumph over Limerick last year means he can be proud of finishing a winner, as he has been for all his career.

"It's certainly a high for me to play what has transpired to be my last season with Rush and win the National Cup, as well as getting to the play-offs final for the Premiership. That was a great achievement without the addition of a couple of overseas players - a truly great effort for such a talented young side."

Armstrong was perhaps the forgotten man of Irish cricket, often left out when rhyming off the names of the Irish side that clinched their first global trophy, when thanks to the "DT declaration" by newly-appointed skipper Trent Johnston, they produced an incredible fightback to beat Kenya.

"The ICup games in Namibia were an amazing trip to be on. Beating Kenya in the final was a unbelievable game with some great, brave, tactical decisions with the declaration still trailing Kenya's first innings by 80-odd runs!

"That was probably the kick-start to Irish cricket really and the first major trophy to boot. There was some serious talent on that trio and great lads. Eoin Morgan was there, as well as Trent, Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Niall O'Brien, Paul Mooney, Kyle McCallan, Andy White, Peter 'Polish' Gillespie. We also had great supporters with us on that trip from North County: Derek Plant, Dave O'Connor, Jim Casey and Ivan Harper - some stories to be told there!"

The ICup triumph was to be the last time Armstrong donned the Irish shamrock, missing out on the glory years of World Cups. Looking back, does he feel bitter at not having played a bigger role, his international career effectively ended at just 25?

"I have no regrets at all at how it ended. I have been capped by Ireland, and had some really great trips, meeting some very good people along the way. Naturally there was disappointment at not getting to the World Cup in 2007 in the West Indies. Looking back, it was probably my own fault to a degree, but donít think I got the rub of the green! But itís done and dusted, I donít lose sleep over it. But, yes of course it would have been nice to been involved."

The final word on his career is a message of thanks to the man who made it all possible for him - a familiar figure lapping the boundary whenever his team were in action - his father Tom.

"I'd like to thank everyone who supported me over the years, on and off the field, but especially my dad Tom. He had a huge influence on my career and brought me up and down the country as a kid to train with under-age groups."