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6N title fitting farewell for Brian O’Driscoll

Six Nations

France 20 (tries: Dulin, Szarzewski; Machenaud 2 pens and 2 cons.; Ireland 22 (tries Sexton 2, Trimble; 2 penalties, 1 con Sexton)

IT isn’t often that Garryowen hand silverware to their local rivals Young Munster so it was a very special moment tonight in Paris when Pat Whelan, the international legend of the light blues, presented Ireland captain Paul O’Connell of Young Munster with the RBS Six Nations trophy following their thrilling two point win over France in Parc de France.

This was certainly a game with no holds barred and at one stage there was more blood on view than you’d see in The Gladiators film. It was also one of the most thrilling rugby battles you could wish to see with the outcome going right down to the last two minutes with France denied a try for a fractional forward pass and referee Steve Walsh of Australia awarding Ireland a penalty five metres from their own line to end this epic 80 minutes.

Without doubt, this is one of the best and most consistent Irish teams of many decades and they are coming good at the right time with the World Cup just 15 months in the distance.

For Brian O’Driscoll it was the perfect finale to a glittering Irish career. I had the pleasure of being in Stade de France when he ran in that memorable hat-trick of tries the last time that Ireland won at that venue in the Six Nations. This time again, he was outstanding and it was from two of his breaks that the boys in green scored tries. O’Connell, Murray and O’Mahony also shone as did Limerick-born Eoin Reddan and Sean Cronin when they were spring from the bench for that gripping last ten minutes.

It was only the second time in 42 years that Ireland have won in France but it was worth waiting for. We pipped England on points difference helped in a big way by that brilliant finish against the Italians in the Aviva a week previous.

Today they never panicked when they trailied 6-0 early in the first half and it was that self-confidence and maturity built on the experience of Paul O’Connell, Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll, Rory Best and Jamie Heaslip that was again crucial.

The team arrives home to Dublin Airport tomorrow afternoon but no official celebrations have yet been announced for the 2014 Six Nations champions.

France: Dulin; Huget, Bastareaud, Fickou, Medard; Tales, Machenaud; Domingo, Szarzewski, Mas, Pape, Maestri, Picamoles, Lapandry, Chouly.

Replacements: Mermoz for Fickou (75), Doussain for Machenaud (66), Debaty for Domingo (41), Guirado for Szarzewski (68), Flanquart for Maestri (53), Vahaamahina for Picamoles (66), Lauret for Lapandry (75).

Not Used: Slimani.

Ireland: R Kearney; Trimble, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, D Kearney; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Ross, Toner, O’Connell, O’Mahony, Henry, Heaslip.

Replacements: McFadden for D’Arcy (66), Madigan for Sexton (68), Reddan for Murray (63), McGrath for Healy (70), Cronin for Best (70), Moore for Ross (63), Henderson for O’Mahony (63).

Not Used: Murphy.

Att: 80,000

Ref: Steve Walsh (Australia).

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