Saturday 25 October 2014

Brian O'Driscoll's 10 most memorable moments in a Leinster jersey

Published 29/05/2014 | 12:13

Brian O'Driscoll, Brian O'Meara and Victor Costello celebrate Leinster's victory over Munster in the 2001 Celtic League final
Brian O'Driscoll in action for Blackrock College in 1997
Brian O'Driscoll and Eoin Reddan  leave the pitch in dejection after Leinster were crushed by Toulon in the Heineken Cup quarter-final
Brian O'Driscoll and Eoin Reddan leave the pitch in dejection after Leinster were crushed by Toulon in the Heineken Cup quarter-final

Brian O'Driscoll will be pull on the blue jersey of Leinster for the final time on Saturday evening in the Pro12 final against Glasgow at the RDS. He has produced and enjoyed some magical moments, here are 10 of the best.

1. BOD passes to himself against Ulster in 2006

 

His through-the-legs pass against Northampton in this season's Heineken Cup drew gasps but the pass he made to himself against Ulster in the Celtic League.

He picked the ball up from a scrum and strode forward. It looked like he would pass to Denis Hickie – the two combined so well when they played – but he eschewed that option, preferring instead to pass to himself by lobbing the ball over the head of Hickie and into his own hands.

It was a moment of wonder that bamboozled the Ulster defence creating enough time and space for O’Driscoll to attack down their wing and get his side within touching distance of a try

 

2. Leinster win the Celtic League in 2001

Leinster survived 55 minutes with 14-men after Eric Miller's sending off to beat Munster and claim the inaugural Celtic League crown.

Gordon D'Arcy and Shane Horgan scored crucial tries as Leinster held off their southern rivals on a scoreline of 24-20.

It was BOD's first success with his province.

Bod, Brian O' Meara and Brian O' Driscoll Celtic League final 2001.jpg

3. Leinster topple Toulouse on French soil in 2006

Probably Leinster's most stylish win, it is tainted somewhat by their failure to back it up in the Lansdowne Road semi-final against Munster.

But taken in isolation, this performance in Toulouse was simply breathtaking as Michael Cheika's men scored a series of scintillating tries in one of the best games the tournament has seen.

To score four tries against the then European champions in their own back yard was impressive, but even more so was the manner in which Leinster scored them as Felipe Contepomi's backline struck from everywhere on the field in a relentless display of attacking prowess.

The Argentinian put the visitors' noses in front with three penalties, before Shane Horgan and Contepomi combined to set up Brian O'Driscoll's try, but Toulouse cut the gap to a point before Cameron Jowitt capitalised on Freddie Michalak's poor pass to score.

Denis Hickie then scored a try to remember from inside his own '22', playing a neat one-two with Gordon D'Arcy before crashing over, and Horgan finished the job with a score of his own to cap one of the great days.

4. BOD produces a moment of genius to sting Wasps at the RDS

Leinster thumped the London Wasps in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup in 2008 at the RDS but it was a moment of magic from O'Driscoll that stole the show.

His first chip and chase was executed perfectly before kicking it again, mid-air, he then re-gathered on the full just before falling over for a fantastic try.

He would be subbbed at half-time for a knee injury but he had made his point already.

5. BOD scores an intercept of ROG as Leinster triumph over Munster at Croker

Each summer, Croke Park hosts occasions of colourful drama infused with local and national rivalries that capture the country's imagination, but in 2009 rugby got in on the act when Munster drew Leinster in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup.

With Lansdowne Road still under reconstruction, the GAA's headquarters got the gig for an unforgettable spectacle witnessed by 82,208 fans in glorious technicolour.

Losing Felipe Contepomi to a knee injury allowed Sexton take centre stage and he never looked back from his first penalty, kicking off his long-running rivalry with O'Gara with a roar.

O'Driscoll's intercept try helped to further eradicate Leinster's bad memories of their meeting two years previously.

They would go on to lift the trophy for the first time by beating Leicester Tigers three weeks later, but their settling of a local score was key to that success.

6. Leinster produce amazing comeback to overhaul Northampton in Heineken Cup decider

After 40 minutes of the Heineken Cup final in 2011, Leinster looked less like a dynasty than a one-hit wonder. The 2009 champions had been battered by Northampton, beaten up in the scrum and, trailing by 16 points at half-time, they looked down and out as the Saints fans celebrated.

Deep beneath the Millennium Stadium stands, scrum coach Greg Feek gathered the front-row around for a live video analysis session, Joe Schmidt changed up his back-row, before Jonathan Sexton rallied the troops with references to Liverpool's heroics on an Istanbul night six years previous.

What followed was the greatest final comeback in Heineken Cup history, with Sexton inspiring Leinster to a stunning recovery as they blew the English side away on the resumption.

From down and out, they were suddenly two-time champions and Schmidt's stock would go through the roof from that first season on.

"It's one you will want to look back on in 15 years and go, 'that was a good day'," Brian O'Driscoll said in the aftermath. "If you can come back from being down, from where we were, there's something special in that."

7. BOD produces a moment of heroism in the 2011 Magners League final

O'Driscoll kept his best performances for the big games and a lot of those big games were against bitter provincial rivals Munster.

In the 2011 Magners League final against Munster, BOD was on the losing side but he produced one of the moments of the game at Thomond Park.

He was down on the ground, clutching his shoulder, surrounded by medics – Marcus Horan had taken him out with a shoulder to shoulder challenge.

When a dangerous Munster break developed near him him, BOD somehow got to his feet and flung himself into a challenge.

It illustrated his guts and determination to win.

8. A third Heineken Cup crown for BOD and co

We didn't know it then, but this was to prove the zenith for Irish provincial rugby in the Heineken Cup as Ulster met Leinster in the 2012 Heineken Cup final at Twickenham.

An all-Irish final seemed the most normal thing in the world, with Ulster having beaten Munster at Thomond Park to cement their credentials as contenders for the first time since 1999.

Just last week, Johann Muller was lamenting the timing of their run for they were to meet a Leinster team at the height of their powers on a day when Twickenham turned white and blue and the home of English rugby became Irish for a day.

Leinster joined Europe's elite as three-time and successive winners, as Schmidt's team gave an all-singing, all-dancing display of their wares with tries from four forwards coming from the New Zealander's brilliant patterns.

Cian Healy, Sean O'Brien, Sean Cronin and Heinke van der Merwe crossed for an emphatic and memorable win.

"It's a hell of an achievement for this bunch of men," Schmidt said.

9. Magner's League triumph in 2008

Brian O'Driscoll's one and only piece of silverware as Leinster captain came in the shape of the Magner's League in 2008.

Leinster won 13 games and drew one out of 18 clashes as they finished top of the table ahead of Cardiff to claim the honours.

Leinster finally broke their last day jinx which had seen them lose the previous two championships when they won the title with one match to spare.

BOD.jpg

10. Brian O'Driscoll returns to action in time to win the Pro12 tile in 2013

Three men who played a pivotal role in BOD's recent success at Leinster were Jonathan Sexton, Isa Nacewa and Joe Schmidt.

Jonathan Sexton signed off before the Lions tour with 14 points as his home province were crowned champions for the first time since 2008 beating Ulster 24-18, ending a run of three successive league final losses.

If they retain the crown their crown on Saturday they will be the first team in the history of the competition to do so.

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