18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Dowling lifted the Heineken Cup in 2006 and 2008 with the Irish province as well as taking top honours in the Magners League in 2009.
"It's been a fabulous experience. I've made some great friends and take with me really great memories, the two Heineken Cup wins obviously the highlights. But besides that, I've had wonderful times with Munster," said Dowling.
"In fairness I've received all the help and assistance I could have asked for from the Munster medics and I'm hugely appreciative of all the time and effort they've put in trying to get me back. We've explored every avenue possible but in the end I know this is the right decision, the only one really."
In the course of his efforts to recover from the hip injury, the 28 year old sensibly made provision for a day of reckoning he knew might arrive and has been engaged in a degree course in Physiotherapy at University of Limerick.
"I'd have to say I'm excited about this new direction. A lot of the skills that I needed to bring to professional rugby are transferable to what I'm doing now."
"But again I have to thank the course director who has been so supportive in facilitating my studies while I was also rehabbing this injury."
"I've been fortunate really. I had a great career as a professional rugby player. I have enjoyed success with Munster, got to travel the world and I am lucky now to be in the position I'm in with a new career hopefully beckoning."
"But there is a lesson here for all those looking to follow a pro rugby path. It can end abruptly. Keep that in your mind if you're sitting in a classroom with only dreams of playing in Thomond Park.
"And finally, to the Munster fans, the best in the world, my heartfelt thanks for the part you played in making mine such a memorable career."