Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Six Nations: Ireland rugby team arrive home in Dublin after win over France in Brian O'Driscoll's last international

Brian O'Driscoll with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Brian O'Driscoll with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Cian Healy lifts the 6 nations trophy as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland.
Jonathan Sexton poses with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. .
Brian O'Driscoll poses for a selfie with Jack and Megan O'Donnell, from Co. Meath, as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the trophy while head coach Joe Schmidt (left) looks on as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the trophy while head coach Joe Schmidt (left) looks on as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless
Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll (left) celebrates with team mate Fergus McFadden on the final whistle after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland and Dean Kearney of Ireland celebrate with the trophy after winning the six nations championship with a 22-20 victory over France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll afterthe Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll afterthe Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland celebrates after winning the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.
Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and team mates celebrate with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll (C) of Ireland celebrates with his team-mates as they lift the trophy after winning the six nations championship with a 22-20 victory over France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland celebrates with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland with Shane Horgan (L) and Ronan O'Gara after winning the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland and team mates celebrate with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland celebrates with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ireland fans show their support outside of the stadium before the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
An Ireland fan is seen during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
A general view during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during the National Anthems before the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the national anthem the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland smiles before the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on before the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
France fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ireland fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Francois Hollande, President of France with Albert II, Prince of Monaco during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton dives in to score a try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Jonny Sexton of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by France's Remi Tales during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Andrew Trimble dives in to score his side's second try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Dave Kearney of Ireland is tackled during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Jamie Heaslip of Ireland makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Jamie Heaslip of Ireland makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Jonny Sexton of Ireland looks on before a kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland runs at the french defence during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Brice Dulin of France score a try for France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland applies an ice pack to his face during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15: Jonny Sexton goes to kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton runs in to score his second and his side's third try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (right) celebrates with team mate Jamie Heaslip (left) after he scores his second and their side's third try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland applies an ice pack to his face during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton carried off during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton is stretchered off during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

The Ireland rugby team have arrived home to a rapturous welcome in Dublin after winning the Six Nations.

Hundreds gathered to greet the champions, who defeated France in Paris on Saturday.

It couldn't have kicked off a better start to the St Patrick's Day celebrations, as Brian O'Driscoll arrived home with trophy in hand following his last international match.

For Ireland's Six Nations showdown in Paris, it was a case of victory at all costs – victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be, as Winston Churchhill famously said.

Paul O'Connell of Ireland celebrates
Paul O'Connell of Ireland celebrates

In recent times, Irish fans have all too often had to endure plenty of terror, and the road to this championship win has no doubt been long and hard.

For such an array of talent in this generation of players, the single solitary title in 2009 represented a sorry return.

Victory is won not in miles but in inches – and Ireland yesterday battled hard all over the pitch.

Six Nations champions after thrilling victory over France

Ireland won the RBS 6 Nations title after beating France 22-20 in Paris, to give Brian O'Driscoll a fairytale send-off, in a thrilling final game of the tournament.

Johnny Sexton's two tries helped Brian O'Driscoll complete the fairytale ending to his international career as Ireland claimed the RBS 6 Nations title by edging out France in Paris.

Sexton ran in two tries, missed five points with the boot and was knocked out cold trying to tackle wrecking ball centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Ireland rebuffed a late French onslaught to claim their first Six Nations title since 2009 and just a second win in 42 years in Paris, with wing Andrew Trimble also on the scoresheet.

O'Driscoll capped his 14st and final international appearance with just a second career Six Nations title, the storybook ending so craved by the Irish nation.

To his stunning Paris hat-trick in 2000, now O'Driscoll can add a stubborn, brutal refusal to be cowed.

Brian O'Driscoll poses for a selfie
Brian O'Driscoll poses for a selfie

After 15 glittering years on the world stage, the Leinster stalwart and Ireland icon can finally hang up his international boots a happy man.

 

Ireland were forced to weather a hefty first-quarter storm, France blasting out firing after criticism of scrum and line-out deficiencies.

Maxime Machenaud slotted two penalty goals to nudge France into the early lead, Bastareaud blasting through the visiting backline on three occasions.

Chris Henry's cute offload outfoxed the home defence after smart build-up play, and Sexton caught sight of the half-gap to cut back inside and over the whitewash.

The former Leinster playmaker scuffed the conversion though, a straightforward effort he should have buried.

Ireland quickly doubled their try count though, thanks to another Joe Schmidt-inspired ruse.

The head coach's wily insight has proved a feature of his first Six Nations, and his nous this time led Ireland to force space around the tackle fringes.

Big, lumbering forwards do not enjoy working into defensive position. France stuck to their typecasting, Conor Murray blasted through the gap and sent Trimble under the sticks.

And it was O'Driscoll's straight and true drive to the gain line that set the ruse in motion.

Big, lumbering forwards love a rolling maul though, and after a textbook drive, Remi Tales chipped to the wing, Yoann Huget tapped inside at full leap and Brice Dulin had the easy run home.

Machenaud's expert touchline conversion wrestled France a 13-12 lead.

Tales tried a snap drop-goal as France built the attack after a loose high bomb from Sexton, but his effort drifted wide.

Prop Nicolas Mas, who spent the early part of the week battling with the French press, departed with a troublesome right arm complaint, replaced by Rabah Slimani.

Further reading

Ireland are Six Nations champions after thrilling victory over France

BOD grateful to bow out on a high

O'Driscoll gets fairytale finale 

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