Wednesday 7 December 2016

Emotional endgame as hero hangs up jersey

Published 17/03/2014 | 02:30

Brian O'Driscoll celebrates
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates
Celebrations as Ireland seal Six Nations

HE didn't want to take it off. Would you blame him?

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It was nearly an hour after the game and Brian O'Driscoll, pictured, was struggling with the idea of taking off his Ireland jersey for the final time. The Six Nations medal which hung around his neck earlier was now in a safe place. The best place for his Ireland jersey was where he wanted it. On him. O'Driscoll said he was "dragging the arse out of it". Probably the only time he's ever done that in his life.

Deep in the bowels of Stade de France later that night, we sat with Ireland bagman Paddy 'Rala' O'Reilly. When it came to hanging up O'Driscoll's jersey earlier that afternoon, Rala said it was terrible. He took more than a second to do it. He came to a full stop. The closing of a chapter. We were all desperate for the romantic finish in Paris. To O'Driscoll's Ireland career. To this Six Nations. But Saint Denis on Saint Patrick's weekend nearly broke our hearts. The endgame was emotionally and physically painful to watch. Forget Euro Disney. This was a rollercoaster ride like no other. France came into the game unable to win the Championship. Nothing to win. But nothing to lose either. They called the opening shots. Two penalties. They called the tunes too. La Marseillais. Allez Les Bleus. Brass bands.

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