Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Six Nations: Celtic nemesis has left us all in wails after latest heartbreaker

Ireland's injured captain Brian O'Driscoll watches the match with his wife Amy Huberman
Ireland's Tommy Bowe at the end of the game
Ireland's Rory Best and Cian Healy tackle Sam Warburton of Wales

"Well hello Wales, we meet again," wrote one Amy Huberman a few hours before kick-off yesterday, attaching her comment to a smoky picture of Humphrey Bogart.

The scene was Twitter and Mrs Brian O'Driscoll, like all of us, was nervously awaiting the latest clash with our World Cup heartbreaker, Wales.



Play it again, indeed. Our Celtic nemesis.



The O'Driscolls, suitably insulated from the chilly barbs of winter, were free to enjoy that rarest of outings -- they were together at an international rugby match for the first time.



"In all the time I've known Brian, I've never watched an international with him," Amy told the Irish Independent on Saturday. For ordinary fans, going to a game is still a financially challenging adventure, though rugby officials appear to have heeded sense in the pricing of tickets -- yesterday was a sell-out.



But there is still work to be done. Wayne and Denny Knowles had come from Wrexham where a pint of Guinness costs about €2.80.



In Ireland, they stayed at a Dublin city centre hotel where the price of the same drink nudged €6.



They had a message for Failte Ireland.



"Dublin is very, very expensive. We notice it's getting more so, not less, every time we come here," said Wayne.



Inside Lansdowne Road, it was a strangely subdued affair for most of the first half.



Relentless



The atmosphere was further deflated by the relentless marketing.



At times, being inside the stadium felt like being trapped on a never-ending Ryanair flight.



Someone bizarrely insisted on the need for deafening PA announcements, thumping bursts of music after every score and regular prompts of official cheering.



"Let's hear it for Ireland as they leave the pitch," shrieked the stadium announcer at half-time before 'Highway to Hell' -- an ominously prescient heavy metal anthem -- boomed around the stadium.



Back on Twitter, often the source of some expert rugby analysis, the consensus was that our legendary captain was indeed being missed.



"I know he'll be as nervous as I was when I watched my sitcom because Brian wants Ireland to win so badly," the proud Mrs O'Driscoll had said before the game.



But it wasn't to be.



The match was certainly no Huberman-esque comedy, more a nerve-shredding drama until Ireland's number 13 Tommy Bowe flew over on 68 minutes to set Ireland on course for what looked like victory.



Or so we thought.



First came a try from Wales's impressive George North.



Then the ref decided Ferris's tackle on Ian Evans deserved a yellow card.



Leigh Halfpenny slotted the penalty and we were sunk.

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