Connacht have admitted defeat in their fight to keep Mike McCarthy after confirming that their inspirational second-row will join Leinster at the end of the current season.

The Western province have been locked in lengthy negotiations with McCarthy, hoping to convince him that his future lay at the Sportsground, however a statement released this morning revealed that they have been unsuccessful. 

Chief Executive Tom Sears said: "We are bitterly disappointed to lose Mike McCarthy, who has been a popular senior member of our squad.

"While disappointed, particularly given the continued success of Connacht Rugby in recent years, we respect the individual player's decision and wish Mike every success in his future playing career."

Sears also took a swipe at Leinster and accused them of attempting to poach their best players on a consistent basis.

In recent years Connacht have lost winger Fionn Carr and hooker Seán Cronin to Leinster.

"We have been aware of Leinster's interest in Mike for some time. It is disappointing they have persistently targeted Connacht players in recent years, particularly when often not in the best interest of Irish Rugby."

The news represents unfortunate timing for Connacht who would have been on a high after their hugely impressive Heineken Cup victory on Biarritz last Friday.

Eric Elwood's men will now travel to face the Basque side this Friday in the return leg and will be hopeful of claiming another famous victory, given that Biarritz removed their head coach Jack Isaac in the wake of that defeat in Galway.

There will be live coverage of Biarritz v Connacht on a specially extended Sport at Seven on RTÉ Radio 1 on Friday 14 December from 7pm.