Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 May 2015

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 injured captain Brian O'Driscoll watches the match with his wife Amy Huberman
Ireland's Tommy Bowe at the end of the game
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Conor Murray of Ireland charges upfield during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Andrew Trimble of Ireland is tackled by Rhys Gill (L) and Mike Phillips during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Paul O'Connell of Ireland is tackled by George North of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Ireland look dejected after their defeat during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Left to right. The Rollo family from Newtownards Melissa, Stephen, Tori and Jessica (16).
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Jake Curran (10) from Bangor
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Martin Brady (centre) with his sons Curtis (right & 15) and Cameron (13) from Belfast
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Left to right. Michael Lagan, Paddy Colhoun and Ross Kane from Belfast
Wales fan Steve Thomas
Ioan Williams and Cameron Best from Cardiff
Glynne Williams from Pembroke Dock
Ireland's Tommy Bowe scores a try
Cyntia Brito from Cardiff
George North scores a try for Wales
Ireland's Paul O'Connell beats Ian Evans of Wales in a lineout
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Stephen Ferris of Ireland looks dejected after being penalised in the last minute, by referee Wayne Barnes during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland fans in the stands applaud their team onto the pitch during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ireland's Donnacha Ryan lays injured after an incident with Wales' Bradley Davies during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ireland rugby fans leave Belfast Central Station ahead of the Six Nations match against Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. David Lennon (13) from Bangor boards the train
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Stephen Ferris of Ireland is sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle and concedes the vital penalty kick during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Wales celebrate victory at the final whistle during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Stephen Ferris of Ireland looks dejected after being penalised in the last minute, by referee Wayne Barnes during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland's Rory Best dejected after the game
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Rory Best of Ireland races clear to score a try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland's Donnacha O'Callaghan (right) tackles Wales' Sam Warburton during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: Leigh Haflpenny (R) of Wales celebrates with team mate Jamie Roberts after kicking the last minute match winning penalty during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland's Stephen Ferris gets tackled by Wales' Adam Rhys Jones (left) and Jamie Roberts (right) during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ireland's Rory Best and Cian Healy tackle Sam Warburton of Wales
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton kicks a penalty
Sam Warburton of Wales salutes the Welsh fans after the game
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny celebrates kicking the winning penalty
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton kicks a penalty
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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