Brian O’Driscoll savoured every moment of the match which saw him win his 100th cap and admitted that it had been more emotional than he had thought would be the case.
Saying it had been “a massive, massive honour” to represent Ireland in 100 Tests he added: “The reception on the way out was just an extra honour.”
The skipper’s team mates held back, allowing him to run out with two mascots to enjoy the applause of 81,340, with the Welsh spectators happily joining in the recognition of a globally-acknowledged rugby football genius.
But typically, O’Driscoll was keen to play down the significance of his big day, instead preferring to concentrate on the performance by his team which saw Wales well beaten, having been outscored by three tries to nil.
“After the disappointment in France it was our goal to try and win our remaining three games, so it’s where we want to be,” he said.
“When they went a man down (Welsh full-back Lee Byrne was yellow-carded in the 26th minute and Ireland scored two tries in his absence) we upped the tempo and went at them and played a lot of rugby.
“They struggled to live with us for those 10 minutes in particular. We just played a smart game.”
O’Driscoll’s all-embracing style of leadership saw him remember to include those members of squad who had no on-field role in Saturday’s 27-12 victory.
Just as the Irish captain attempted to ensure the post-match spotlight was not trained solely on him, he was determined others beyond its range were not excluded.
“I’d pay tribute to the wider squad. There’s a lot of guys who didn’t actually get to pull on the green jersey today but there’s so much work done behind the scenes in which they are involved, so huge credit to them,” he said.
Jamie Heaslip lauded O’Driscoll on having completed a century of Test caps.
“When you get a player who wins 100 caps, I tell you that is outstanding. And when you consider that 63 of those have been as captain, that is unbelievable.
“He’s been the best player for the past 10 years — not only Ireland, but the Northern Hemisphere and possibly the world — so I really can’t say enough about him.”
Coach Declan Kidney defended the refereeing of South African official Craig Joubert by saying: “I met Craig and he explained to us what he was going to happen at the breakdown and that’s exactly what happened.
“You can’t ask anything more from a referee than that he does what he has said he will do.
“So Craig had a good game.”