The Six Nations era has been one of unprecedented success for Irish men's rugby.
While the World Cup glass ceiling has remained stubbornly intact, the past 21 seasons have seen Ireland secure four Six Nations titles, two with Grand Slams, five Triple Crowns and the provinces win six European Cups between them.
While coaches have played an integral role, it is the players who have driven the performances that have delivered some of the most famous days in the history of the game here.
The names roll off the tongue, but ranking them is a tricky task.
Today we present our top 30 players of the Six Nations era. The list is based on their overall contribution since 2000 and not restricted to their performances in the Six Nations itself.
It is, of course, a subjective process and leaving out some quality players is not an easy job.
Some, like Peter Clohessy, did their best work before the period in question, while others who came close but just missed out include Jared Payne, Mike Ross, Malcolm O'Kelly, Jerry Flannery, Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Gleeson, Kevin Maggs, Eric Miller, Tomas O'Leary and Donnacha Ryan.
No doubt if the pubs were open there would be plenty of debate over who made it and the order they're in. Unfortunately, it will be limited to social media.
But what the process shows is how fortunate we've been to see some of Ireland's greatest players in the recent past.
30. Robbie Henshaw
Teams: Connacht, Leinster, Ireland (47 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2018, PRO14 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, Lion 2017
Winning tries against England in 2015 and the All Blacks in Ireland's famous first win in Chicago, Henshaw's individual performance against France in the 2015 World Cup pool game was outstanding and there have been plenty of other big days.
Capped at 19, he played a key role in Connacht's first title before helping Leinster to further honours. Injury limited his 2017 Lions tour, 2018 Grand Slam involvement and hampered his 2019 World Cup. Still 27, he has time on his side.
29. Jacob Stockdale
Teams: Ulster, Ireland (33 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2018 (Grand Slam)
Stockdale broke the Six Nations try-scoring record in his first go, grabbed the winner against the All Blacks in a historic first victory in Dublin and is hurtling up the ranks as the country's top try scorer of all time with 17 in 33 appearances.
Still just 24, he has lots of time to rise through the ranks if he can fix the defensive lapses that frequently occur in big games. But no denying his impact.
28. Denis Hickie
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (62 caps)
Honours: PRO14 2001, Lion 2005 (1 Test)
Hickie won 12 caps in the 1990s without ever nailing his place but became a key player after the turn of the century.
As good as Brian O'Driscoll's hat-trick was, the famous win in Paris wouldn't have been secured without the winger's last-gasp tackle on Marc del Maso.
Won a Lions cap in 2005 and for a time held Ireland's all-time try-scoring record. He had the brains and footwork to go with his gas and was a stalwart at Leinster before retiring after the 2007 World Cup.
27. Iain Henderson
Teams: Ulster, Ireland (58 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Lions (2017)
A player with incredible physical gifts, he is a strong lineout forward and a superb ball-carrier who has enjoyed some big days in green - most notably at the 2015 World Cup and in the 2018 win over France when he played a pivotal role in setting up Johnny Sexton's drop-goal.
Still, there have equally been days where he couldn't impose his undoubted quality on the opposition. He has time on his side to move up the rankings, and the next couple of seasons will define his international legacy.
26. David Humphreys
Teams: Ulster, Ireland (72 caps)
Honours: Heineken Cup 1999, Celtic Cup 2004, PRO14 2006
Much of Humphreys' best work came before the scope of this list and when he entered the decade as a Heineken Cup winner, 2000 also saw the emergence of a new rival for the No.10 shirt in Ronan O'Gara.
The Ulsterman fought his corner and won the selection battle for some big games, while also amassing a record points tally for his home province before retiring in 2008 and moving behind the scenes.
25. Donnacha O'Callaghan
Teams: Munster, Worcester, Ireland (94 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), Heineken Cup 2006, 2008, PRO14 2006, 2009, 2011, Lion 2005, 2009 (4 Tests)
A second-row with the physical attributes to mix it with the best, Corkman O'Callaghan was the perfect foil for Paul O'Connell and edged out some illustrious rivals for selection for big games across his career.
O'Callaghan was known for his incredible work rate and strong set-piece. Hugely durable, he was present on all of the big days during the 2000s and his professionalism saw him carry on until he was 39. A Lion in 2005 and 2009, he played in all the Tests on the ill-fated New Zealand tour.
24. Andrew Trimble
Teams: Ulster, Ireland (70 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2014, Celtic League 2006
Trimble admits he was never the most naturally gifted player in the world, but this quick and powerful winger made the most of what he had in a fine career which spanned 12 years in the green jersey as well as at Ravenhill.
After being a regular under Eddie O'Sullivan, injury and form disrupted his momentum and it was under Joe Schmidt that he played his best rugby. Player of the Year when Ireland won the Six Nations in 2014, he was unlucky that an ill-timed injury ruined his chances of selection for the 2015 World Cup.
23. Peter Stringer
Teams: Munster, Saracens, Bath, Sale Sharks, Worcester, Ireland (98 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), Heineken Cup 2006, 2008, PRO14 2003, 2009, 2011
One of the famous five who made their debuts in that Scotland game in 2000, Stringer's crisp passing was a feature of Ireland's resurgence and Munster's success in the ensuing decade.
His iconic try in the 2006 final when he caught Sireli Bobo napping will live forever in the Munster annals, while his capacity to come up with key tap-tackles was a regular feature of the era.
Although he lost his Munster and Ireland place to Tomas O'Leary for the 2008 final and the 2009 Grand Slam, it was fitting that Stringer came off the bench to deliver the pass to set up Ronan O'Gara's drop-goal in Cardiff.
22. James Ryan
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (32 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2018 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2018, PRO14 2018, 2019, 2020
It is still early days in Ryan's burgeoning career, but the young Dubliner has already achieved an awful lot and has been one of Ireland's best players since he was brought into the team in 2018.
His engine helped drive Joe Schmidt's team to a Grand Slam that season, while his performances with Leinster earned a European/PRO14 double and has already captained his country on multiple occasions.
21. John Hayes
Teams: Munster, Ireland (105 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), Heineken Cup 2006, 2008, PRO14 2004, 2009, 2011, Lion 2005, 2009 (2 Tests)
Was the rock upon which the Munster and Irish teams were built in the 2000s. Hayes' reliability was key when there was little depth at tight-head.
A Lion in 2005 and 2009, his phenomenal lineout lifting helped Paul O'Connell forge his reputation and, while he wasn't known for his all-round game, it's not a stretch to say that the success of the 2000s wouldn't have happened without him.
20. Keith Earls
Teams: Munster, Ireland (88 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2018 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2008, PRO14 2009, 2011, Lion 2009
With pace to burn, electric feet and a nose for the try-line, Earls made his Ireland debut just over a year after his first Munster start and took the step up with ease.
Didn't do himself justice on the 2009 Lions tour as the youngest member of the squad, but his professionalism and clear talent meant he remained a fixture in the Ireland team when fit and he is the top Irish try-scorer at Rugby World Cups and the second highest try scorer in Irish history. Still a key part of the set-up at 33.
19. Peter O'Mahony
Teams: Munster, Ireland (73 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Lion 2017 (1 Test)
A natural born leader, O'Mahony has captained his province and country at every level and was handed the job for the first Lions Test of the 2017 tour.
Although that game didn't go his way, the Cork Constitution flanker has been a driving force in the Irish pack for almost a decade and, while he suffered a horrible knee injury at the 2015 World Cup, he came back to produce some of his best rugby.
His performances against Scotland in the 2015 Six Nations decider, the 2017 win over England and the Dublin win over the All Blacks all stand out. Carried the fight to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final while the team crumbled.
18. Shane Horgan
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (65 caps)
Honours: Heineken Cup 2009, 2011, PRO14 2001, 2008, Lion 2005 (4 Tests)
Whether it's the sight of him reaching out his arm to score in the corner at Twickenham in 2006 or rising highest to collect Ronan O'Gara's cross-kick at Croke Park a year later, Horgan's image will forever have resonance with Irish rugby fans.
Although he emerged as a centre, the Meathman quickly became one of the leading modern wingers and was a stalwart in the Irish side from 2000 until 2008 and was involved in all four Lions Tests in 2005.
Lost his place to Tommy Bowe and missed out on the Grand Slam, but the pain of that was eased by Leinster's long-awaited European success in 2009.
17. David Wallace
Teams: Munster, Ireland (72 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2006, 2008, Celtic Cup 2001, PRO14 2004, 2009, 2011, Lion 2001, 2009 (3 Tests)
Wallace was a central figure in the Munster back-row as they claimed their two European titles.
Found himself in and out of favour with Ireland, but Declan Kidney put his trust in him and claimed the Grand Slam.
Those displays earned him a Lions starting spot that summer in South Africa and he was on track to be a key member of Ireland's 2011 World Cup squad until he suffered a career-ending injury in the final warm-up game.
16. Stephen Ferris
Teams: Ulster, Ireland (35 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), Lions 2009, Celtic League 2006
Another player who would undoubtedly be higher up the list had injury not curtailed his career so cruelly.
Ireland does not often produce athletes of the ferocious power that Ferris possessed. Whether as a destructive ball-carrier or a monstrous tackler - just as Will Genia - he was a key man in the 2009 Grand Slam season and was on course to be a Test Lion that summer until injury struck.
Was outstanding at the 2011 World Cup, but a persistent foot problem meant he never played for Joe Schmidt and was retired before he was 30. Far too young.
15. Anthony Foley
Teams: Munster, Ireland (62 caps)
Honours: Heineken Cup 2006, 2008, PRO14 2003, Celtic Cup 2005
Foley was earmarked for success from an early age and he made his international debut in 1995, but it was 2000 when he nailed down his place in the starting team, however, and he was as much a part of Ireland's rise from also-rans to contenders as any of his team-mates.
A smart, ball-carrying No.8, he led Munster to their Heineken Cup Holy Grail in 2006, while he was an important figure in a host of important Ireland wins.
Tragically, Foley died less than a decade on from his retirement while working as coach of his beloved Munster.
14. Gordon D'Arcy
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (82 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014, Heineken Cup 2009, 2011, 2012, Challenge Cup 2013, PRO14 2001, 2008, 2013, 2014, Lion 2005, 2009 (1 Test)
D'Arcy was capped as a teenager but lost his way somewhat in his early years before reinventing himself as a world-class inside centre.
Won the Six Nations Player of the Tournament in his new position as Ireland won the Triple Crown in 2014, while he'd become Brian O'Driscoll's long-time centre partner over the coming decade and they'd add a couple of Six Nations titles including the 2009 Grand Slam to their collection before finishing.
A clever defender who punched well above his weight, D'Arcy became an all-rounder with the capacity to break the line or poach the ball depending on the situation at hand.
13. Tadhg Furlong
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (44 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2018 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2018, PRO14 2018, 2019, 2020
While other tight-heads have done stellar jobs in their primary role, Campile native Furlong is the complete package with a wide skill-set with ball in hand, at the set-piece and the breakdown.
Showed his incredible hands in the 2018 Grand Slam decider and a stand-out in the Lions series in 2017, he's been a world-leader in his position in the last five years.
12. Cian Healy
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (104 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2009, 2011, 2012, 2018, Challenge Cup 2013, PRO14 2008, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020, Lion 2013
Like Furlong, Healy was a transformational figure when he emerged on the scene in the late 2000s - every inch a modern prop who could do it all.
A destructive scrummager, he is a powerful ball-carrier capable of flattening both Ma'a Nonu and Richie McCaw in one game in 2013 and was among the best loose-head props in the game.
Healy's recovery from a serious mid-career injury was an understated but essential element in Ireland's greatest year in 2018. Considering how he plays the game, becoming a Test centurion is a remarkable achievement
11. Rob Kearney
Teams: Leinster, Western Force, Ireland (95 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Heineken Cup 2009, 2011, 2012, 2018, PRO14 2008, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020, Lion 2009, 2013 (3 Tests)
A consistently excellent reader of the game with an under-rated attacking game, he ruled the air during his almost unbroken spell as Ireland's full-back from 2008 to 2019, a period where he won everything in the game bar the World Cup and was crowned European Player of the Year in 2012.
His display in the 2009 Lions second Test was magnificent, and was outstanding in Chicago.
10. Tommy Bowe
Teams: Ulster, Ospreys, Ireland
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2015; PRO14 2006, 2010, 2012, Lion 2009, 2013 (5 Tests)
Looking every inch the modern winger, Monaghan's Bowe missed out on the 2007 World Cup but became a fixture in the Irish team from 2008 on despite spending four seasons in Wales.
The full package, he had power, pace, size and try-scoring instinct and he contributed big scores at key moments like his Cardiff strike and a brace against England in Twickenham in 2010 which included a late winner.
A starter in all three Tests on the Lions tour of South Africa in '09, Warren Gatland rated him so highly he kept him on board with a broken hand in 2013 and he was part of the series win.
9. Jamie Heaslip
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (95 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014, 2015; Heineken Cup 2009, 2011, 2012, Challenge Cup 2013; PRO14 2008, 2013, 2014; Lion 2009, 2013 (5 caps)
A marauding No.8 in his early years, he burst onto the scene with big performances in Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam.
The starting Test No.8 in five successive Lions Tests in 2009 and 2013, he was infamously dropped for the decider in Australia and, after avoiding injury through his career, a back problem forced him to retire in 2017.
Consistently a high performer, his defiant performance as captain in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina stands out among a host of big days in blue and green.
8. Sean O'Brien
Teams: Leinster, London Irish, Ireland (56 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2015, Champions Cup 2011, 2012; Challenge Cup 2013, PRO14 2008, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, Lion 2013, 2017 (5 Tests)
A sensation at the 2011 World Cup and on course to repeat the trick until a silly punch on Pascal Pape cost him his quarter-final place, O'Brien drove Leinster forward during their glory years - with his performance in the 2011 Heineken Cup final a stand-out.
A Test Lion in 2013 and a key man in the drawn series in New Zealand, O'Brien was the Irish player the All Blacks respected most in this era.
7. Conor Murray
Teams: Munster, Ireland (87 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), PRO14 2011, Lion 2013, 2017 (4 Tests)
For a period around 2016, Murray was the best scrum-half in the world. His performance in that year's first win over New Zealand in Chicago was one of the finest individual displays from any Irish player.
From the moment he forced his way into the team on the eve of the 2011 World Cup, he's been a mainstay of the team when fit, with successive coaches trusting his calm assurance.
6. Keith Wood
Teams: Munster, Harlequins, Ireland (58 caps)
Honours: Lion 1997, 2001 (5 caps); World Player of the Year 2001
A good portion of Wood's career, including that incredible 1997 Lions success, falls outside of the scope of this exercise, but he still packed a lot into those last couple of years, returning to Munster for one season and helping them to their first Heineken Cup final, starting for the Lions in that memorably close Australia series and winning the 2001 World Player of the Year.
His try against England that year is unforgettable, while he was the driving force behind the 2003 campaign before retiring at that year's World Cup.
5. Rory Best
Teams: Ulster, Ireland (124 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Celtic League 2006, Lion 2013, 2017
Captain on some of Ireland's greatest days, Poyntzpass hooker Best displayed remarkable durability and bravery during his decorated career in green.
An Ulster stalwart, he had to bide his time early on, but after Jerry Flannery retired he became the starting hooker for a decade and took over as captain when Paul O'Connell retired in 2016.
A tough nut and set-piece specialist who once played on with a broken arm against the All Blacks, he made two Lions tours and led Ireland to the Grand Slam and first victories over the All Blacks and in South Africa.
4. Johnny Sexton
Teams: Leinster, Racing 92, Ireland (95 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2009, 2011, 2012, 2018, Challenge Cup 2013, PRO14 2008, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2020, Lion 2013, 2017 (6 Tests), World Player of the Year 2018
Sexton was World Player of the Year at the end of his greatest year, his performance in the second half of the 2011 Heineken Cup final was exceptional and he's been the starting No.10 in five of the last six Lions Tests when they won a series in Australia and drew in New Zealand.
His ability to conduct Joe Schmidt's game plan is unquestioned, his defence and bravery are superb and his CV speaks for itself, although his stint in Paris was an unhappy one.
3. Ronan O'Gara
Teams: Munster, Ireland (128 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), Champions Cup 2006, 2008, PRO14 2003, 2009, 2011, Lion 2001, 2005, 2009 (2 Tests)
While few would argue with O'Gara's place in the top five, some would dispute his placing above Sexton. When choosing between two of the transcendent players of the era it comes down to who, at their peak, would you pick to start a World Cup final.
The answer to that, in this writer's case at least, is O'Gara who, for all of Sexton's extra accolades, was the supreme out-half and the wilful driving force behind Ireland's rise from also-rans to contenders.
Clutch kicks in big moments like the one that delivered history in Cardiff are the chief memory people have of the Corkman, but his attacking ability, game knowledge and tactical kicking was world class.
The way things ended shouldn't detract from a rare contribution from one of the icons of the Irish game.
2. Paul O'Connell
Teams: Munster, Ireland (108 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014, 2015, Champions Cup 2006, 2008, PRO14 2003, 2009, 2011, Lion 2005, 2009, 2013 (7 Tests)
A totemic figure, a talismanic leader and one of the leading forwards of his generation, O'Connell was one of the catalysts for Irish success in this era.
On the pitch, his performances were consistently excellent, while off it he was a driver of standards who never accepted second best as Munster and Ireland developed a steelier winning mentality.
Seemed to be getting better with age until his body dramatically gave way in that epic 2015 World Cup win over France, a blow that the squad never recovered from.
A Lion on three successive tours and captain in the epic series defeat in South Africa in 2009, he was respected across the game and he retains an unmatched aura that he carries into his new role with the Ireland coaching team.
1. Brian O'Driscoll
Teams: Leinster, Ireland (133 caps)
Honours: Six Nations 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014, Champions Cup 2009, 2011, 2012, PRO14 2001, 2008, 2013, 2014, Challenge Cup 2013, Lion 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 (8 Tests)
No man defines this era like the No.13 who bestrode the game from 1999 until 2014.
Announced himself with that incredible hat-trick in Paris in 2000 and a year later he was scoring the greatest Lions try of them all at the Gabba, taking over the captaincy from Keith Wood in 2003 and leading the Lions in New Zealand until he was brutally taken out in that first Test.
Despite his excellence, he had to be patient when it came to success but the medals flowed in the latter half of his career.
While the style was still there, the later stage of O'Driscoll's career was marked by grit. In the 2009 Grand Slam his pick and jam tries against England and Wales were key to the success.
Signed off with a second Six Nations and, while the 2013 Lions tour was disappointing, it doesn't diminish his legacy as one of the game's all-time greats.