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Ireland fans lift raise the roof at Murrayfield after nail-biting Six Nations climax

By Adrian Rutherford

It was the biggest cheer to reverberate around Murrayfield all day.

Long after Ireland's 2015 Six Nations campaign ended with record books being revisited, and in the dying light of a glorious spring afternoon in Scotland's capital, the blast of a referee's whistle 400 miles away stirred an outpouring of elation mixed with relief amid the mass of Irish supporters still gathered here.

This was the sweetest of finishes to the longest of days.

From early morning they arrived, sporting jerseys, flags and regalia which turned Edinburgh's Royal Mile into a sea of green. The visiting contingent at Murrayfield easily outnumbered Ireland's official ticket allocation.

Four teams started the day with a mathematical chance of the title, two of them realistic.

Thus the drama was centred on two great rugby theatres, Murrayfield and Twickenham.

Ireland had to beat a Scots side that had lost all five games. And they had to do it by a convincing manner as England, who were facing the unpredictable French, could still overtake them on points difference.

Roared on by a vociferous travelling support, Ireland did what they had to, winning by 30 points.

The margin of victory could have been greater, but the crowd left pleased, confident Ireland had done enough.

Many Ireland fans stayed on to watch on TV screens around Murrayfield.

As 5pm approached, chants of Allez Les Bleus broke out. a red, white and blue flag was held aloft as fans joined a chorus of La Marseillaise, that great French call to arms, in a show of allegiance for all things Gallic.

The carnival atmosphere hushed somewhat as England recovered from a poor start.

England chipped away at the points target, 13 needed, then six.

Back at Murrayfield the noise grew quieter as England edged towards the line.

Then, suddenly, the move broke down. The ball was booted out of play and the final whistle brought cheers of celebration.

One quarter of Murrayfield, the rest long-emptied by the despondent home supporters, erupted as Ireland's players re-emerged.

Three hours earlier they had left the pitch with one hand on the title. Now they filed out again, gathering under a hastily-erected stand, finally deserving of the prize.

The night sky was lit up by fireworks and the flash of green lights as Paul O'Connell held the trophy aloft.

Many of the fans had been here for approaching six hours, but no one wanted to leave.

A very long afternoon had ended with very short fingernails. However, those privileged to be at Murrayfield had seen something very special.

History had been made.

Ireland were the champions.

Belfast Telegraph


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