Historic rugby clash immortalised in sculpture
It was a day in Irish sporting folklore that transcended politics.
A towering sculpture, marking the historic 2007 Irish rugby win over England in Croke Park, was unveiled yesterday at Shannon Airport.
The piece, by artist Paddy Campbell, and titled 'The Day That Changed Ireland', captures a famous Irish line-out, which saw rugby legend Paul O'Connell raised high by teammates John Hayes and Donncha O'Callaghan.
It recalls that special moment when he snatched possession from the opposition in the second half of a rout over England, which Ireland won 43-13.
It will stand in the airport terminal building for future generations to savour. The February 2007 game remains one of the seminal moments in Irish sport, marking a symbolic new chapter in Anglo-Irish relations, as Ireland and England met for the first time in the spiritual home of the GAA.
Paul O'Connell described it as an "incredible piece" of artwork.
"I really can't believe the size of it - but the detail in it is incredible," he said.
"It is a sculpture about a great moment in rugby for Ireland and beyond rugby. As a game, it all just clicked for us that day. It probably was the most emotionally charged game I ever played in. There was such a big battle that went on for us to be able to play there."