Kidney played rugby for UCC and later for Dolphin RFC. He studied to become a mathematics teacher, in which position he was appointed at Presentation Brothers College, Cork, and later became the career guidance officer.
He took on the role of rugby coach at the school, where he had initial success as coach of the junior and later senior side.
His initial stint at Munster ended in 2002, when he left to become Ireland's assistant coach. He was replaced at Munster by Alan Gaffney.
Success with Munster
He rejoined Munster in 2005, winning the Heineken Cup in his first season back, after losing in both 2000 and 2002 in the final. After this win, Kidney was awarded the 2006 Philips Sports Manager of the Year award, and on 24 May 2008, his Munster squad won the Heineken Cup once again.
Kidney was succeeded as Munster coach in July 2008 by Tony McGahan, when Kidney became the Irish national coach. He coached the Irish team to the Grand Slam and Triple Crown in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 21 March 2009, in his first year as head coach. In June 2009, coached Ireland Wolfhounds, then known as Ireland A, to their first Churchill Cup.
On 28 November 2009, he was awarded IRB Coach of the Year. On 9 December 2009, he was awarded Phillips Manager of the Year for the third time in four years, beating Brian Cody, John Oxx and Giovanni Trapattoni to the title. He led Ireland to the quarter finals of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, where they were defeated 22–10 by Wales.
Ireland's international fortunes declined after 2009 with a poor string of results, which was the antithesis to the success of its provinces Leinster, Ulster, Connacht and Munster. They suffered their heaviest defeat in history and slipped to their worst IRB World Ranking of 9th. After finishing 5th in the 2013 Six Nations Championship, the IRFU, on 2 April 2013, took the decision to terminate Kidney's contract.
- "Declan Kidney Confirmed As New Ireland Coach". Irish Rugby. 7 May 2008. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
- "Ireland appoint Kidney as coach". BBC Sport. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
- "Ireland's coach in waiting". This is London. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
- "The Return of the Prodigal Son". redgrouper.com. October 2005. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
- New role for Kidney BBC Sport, 16 February 2004
- Munster: Heineken Cup Factfile Irish Rugby, 4 April 2008
- Leinster land Kidney BBC Sport, 26 May 2004
- Kidney knows it's getting tougher in Heineken Cup RTÉ Sport, 30 October 2001
- Munster 23–19 Biarritz BBC Sport, 20 May 2006
- Kidney Confirmed as Manager of the year Irish Rugby, 8 December 2006
- "2008 Heineken Cup final". BBC Sport. 24 May 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
- McGahan Confirmed as New Munster Coach Irish Rugby
- "2009 Six Nations". BBC Sport. 22 March 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
- "IRB awards for McCaw, South Africa & Kidney". BBC Sport. 28 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- Kidney named Phillips Manager of the Year, RTÉ Sport, 9 December 2009
- "Major opportunity lost as superb Welsh slam door shut". Irish Independent. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- "IRFU Announce Decision Not To Offer Declan Kidney New Contract". irishrugby.ie. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- "Declan Kidney sacked as Ireland coach". Irish Independent. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- "Ewen McKenzie favourite to replace Ireland coach Declan Kidney". Daily Telegraph. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- "Declan Kidney sacked as Ireland rugby union coach". BBC Sport. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- "Declan Kidney appointed Director of Sport at UCC". Irish Independent. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
|IRB International Coach of the Year
|Irish national rugby coach
|Munster Rugby coach