Ireland – rugby champions of Europe!

What a drama – playing out the final game in the caulron that is the Arms Park.  Ireland triumphed – just- over a brave, gallant Welsh team.  As in all of the Irish games the two leaders – Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell led from the front.  No other team they’ve met has had this calibre of leadership.

We can rejoice.  The monkey is off the back.  The Irish team have gone to the citadel and won.  Yes they made mistakes under pressure – but they aslo played some wonderful rugby under pressure.  On balance there is some justice in the match being won by the team that scored two tries.  but the reality is that it came down to a kick here and a kick there.

There will be a temptation to read too much into what a team of rugby players – wearing the Irish jersey – has achieved.  What they have done is win five international Championship rugby matches on the trot – and been the first Irish team to go unbeaten in the Championship for 61 years.  A fantastic achievement for this group of players and all of those in the backroom who have backed them up.  It’s also a great day for all Irish supporters – who have followed Irish teams through highs and lows.  And for all the schools, clubs, players, former players, coaches and administrators.  And for all of those who have sustained injuries over the years.   To say nothing of the sponsors who should not be overlooked in touch challenging times.

A great season and a great finale to the international season.  And now we can look forward to following Munster and Leinster in the Heineken Cup.  And the Lions tour later this summer – surely today’s match will provide almost the full line up – Scotland and England players may struggle to find many slots in the Test team lineup.

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