Thursday 27 November 2014

Match report: BOD's perfect day

Ireland 46-7 Italy

Published 08/03/2014 | 16:32

BRIAN O’Driscoll only played an hour of his Dublin farewell – but what an hour.

Unloading a box of tricks, including out of the back passes and basketball lobs, he set up three of Ireland’s tries in a romp that gives them more than a sporting chance of securing the Six Nations titles in his final appearance in Paris next weekend.

When he departed on the hour, the Aviva stadium rose to a man, woman and child to acclaim a true Irish sporting icon – his race is nearly run but he is ensuring that his final lap of honour in green may well be trophy-laden.

His man of the match award was inevitable, as was the hint of tears when he was interviewed afterwards.

“I haven’t really let myself think about it. It’s emotional," he said on RTE.

“I’ve been with Ireland my whole adult life and to leave here, is going to be hard. It’s a good way to leave it today and hopefully we set ourselves up for next week.

“I feel humbled by the reaction today. It seems a bit of a joke to get the man-of-the-match for 60 minutes but I’ve loved my time playing in this jersey and it does have to come to an end at some time.

“I’m able to go out at home with a big win."

Brian O'Driscoll helped Ireland secure a convincing win over Italy
Brian O'Driscoll helped Ireland secure a convincing win over Italy
8 March 2014; Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll, with his daughter Sadie, leave the pitch after the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll watches the game from his seat after being substituted, with Jonathan Sexton and team masseur Willie Bennett, right. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, greets former Ireland player Ronan O'Gara after being substituted during the second half. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their child Sadie Huberman O'Driscoll before the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie before the game. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie before the game. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, waves to him just before the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, in action during the game. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll arrives at the Aviva today
Leonardo Sarto of Italy celebrates after scoring his team's first try of the game during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, on the way scoring his side's first try
Ireland's Andrew Trimble and Italy's Quentin Geldenhuys during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland passes ahead of Gonzalo Garcia of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland waves farewell to the fans after his last home appearance the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is applauded off the field by his team mates after his last home appearance the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland breaks away during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Gordon D'Arcy of Ireland is tackled by Michele Campagnaro of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Irelands Jamie Heaslip and Sean Cronin celebrate his try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Sean Cronin scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Andrew Trimble scores his side's second try despite the attentions of Italy's Tito Tebaldi and Joshua Furno (right) during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie from the pitch as his team-mates form a guard of honor after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with wife Amy Huberman and daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll kisses his wife Amy Huberman as she holds daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Man of the match Brian O'Driscoll leaves the pitch with his daughter Sadie during his last home game during the RBS Six Nations match with Italy at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match against Italy at Aviva stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll heads down the tunnel after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match against Italy
Irelands Jamie Heaslip and Sean Cronin celebrate his try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is embraced by his mother Geraldine along with his wife Amy Huberman (left) holding their daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll applauds a late Ireland try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after he left the field during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Man of the match Brian O'Driscoll leaves the pitch during his last home game during the RBS Six Nations match with Italy at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll leaves the field after beating Italy in the Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva stadium in Dublin
Ireland's Sean Cronin (bottom right) scores a try against Italy
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie Huberman O'Driscoll before the game
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, offloads the ball to Jonathan Sexton leading to his side's fourth try
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with his mother Geraldine after the game.
Brian O'Driscoll's wife Amy Huberman, with daughter Sadie,look on after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with teammate Gordon D'Arcy after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with teammate Jonathan Sexton after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll salutes the fans after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll looks emotional after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the game.
Ireland's Jack McGrath, left, is congratulated by team-mates Paddy Jackson, right, and Eoin Reddan after scoring his side's final try
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll sings the National Anthem with team mascots, Oran Richardson, age 7, from Malahide, Dublin, left, and Katie Kennedy, age 7, from Terenure, ahead of the game.
Leonardo Sarto of Italy runs in his team's first try of the game during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is tackled by Luciano Orquera of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland breaks away during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Cian Healy of Ireland scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is applauded off the field by his team mates after his last home appearance
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is replaced by Fergus McFadden in the second half
Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Mike Ross of Ireland sing the National Anthem

As the crowd chanted "one more year", his voice caught a couple of time but he added: “It’ll only properly set in, I think, when I’ve had a bit of time. Hopefully after next week, a big performance and there is a chance at a Championship.

“We go to France with huge positivity, to try and relive what happened back in 2000."

That was when he announced himself on the world stage with three tries.

Today, two Jonny Sexton tries and one each from Cian Healy, Andrew Trimble. Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath propelled Ireland to a facile win against the game Italians, avenging last season’s shock reverse in Rome.

O’Driscoll led his side out although it was a pity he did so when more than a quarter of the 51,000 attendance had still refused to take their seats before the 140-times capper was introduced to his Dublin faithful for the last time in a green shirt.

They didn’t miss his first significant intervention. From a superb set-piece scrum, he ran a loop with Jonny Sexton and the Irish out-half scampered beyond the despairing Italian centre Gonzalo Garcia to dot down and nail the easy conversion, his fourth for Ireland.

There were only six minutes gone and already thoughts were turning towards the potential to sizeably increase Ireland’s points differential as they contemplate a second title in five seasons.

The Italians, as they had done against Wales first day out, were unbowed by the early concession and they played some sparkling stuff amongst their fresh-faced backs for the rest of the quarter as Ireland forced a lot of their play.

Ireland may have enjoyed 75% possession and turning over set-piece at will, but Italy’s enigmatic endeavour was rewarded when they drew level with a superb 25th minute turnover try when Andrew Trimble lost contact.

It was no surprise that it came from one of their fledgling backs, Leonardo Sarto, who  destroyed the Kearney brothers and a desperate tackle attempt from O’Driscoll on the left flank of Ireland’s defence for a glorious touchdown.

Ireland responded strongly, Eoin Reddan almost made the line after breaking from a scrum, but as Cian Healy attempted to scramble, Marco Bortloami committed a professional foul.

There was no yellow card; only three points for Ireland and a 32nd minute three point lead, 10-7.

O’Driscoll was central to Ireland’s second try; first, when Ireland broke from their 22 following a tap penalty, as his flick set Rob Kearney free; then, with an outrageous dummy and basketball pass to try-scorer Trimble, his 14th for Ireland.

Sexton converted the cracking try in a belter of a game for a fairer first-half reflection of Ireland’s dominance, 17-7.

The theme continued apace in the second-half; Ireland controlling possession, with more emphasis on mauling, but unable to convert until, from close range, Cian Healy burrowed over in the 53rd minute for his third Irish try.

Referee Nigel Owens was on his knees when he whistled the 54th minute score; so were the gritty Italians, although Sexton erred for the first time of the afternoon to leave the score 22-7.

O’Driscoll was centrally involved again in Ireland’s fourth try, with an extraordinary offload from his left-hand side releasing the Kearney brothers to allow Sexton to claim his fourth try of the day on the hour for 27-7.

Ireland emptied their bench and their lungs in pursuit of vital points; Sean Cronin scored his first ever international try in 34 appearances.

O’Driscoll had long gone by then, departing on the hour, succumbing for the final time to his wearying body, despite the wondrous skills that had been evidenced for the previous 60 minutes.

It may take some time to realise we would never see his likeness again.

Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt said: “Fairytales do come true and for Drico today, that was unbelievably good. No one was leaving the stadium, applause for a man who massively deserves it.

“For him and the team, we would love to go to Paris next week and get something.

“In the modern day of the big powerful, direct centre, he still shows that courage and class can still take you a long way.

"He had a hand in three tries and a pretty important hand in all of them.”

Ireland: R Kearney, A Trimble, B O’Driscoll (F McFadden 61), G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton (P Jackson 64), C Murray (E Reddan 17): C Healy (J McGrath 54), R Best (S Cronin 55), M Ross (M Moore 57); D Toner, P O’Connell capt, I Henderson (R Ruddock 54), C Henry, J Heaslip.

Replacements: J Murphy, , F McFadden.

Italy: L McLean; A Esposito, M Campagnaro, G Garcia (A Masi 64), L Sarto; L Orquera (T Allan 64), T Tebaldi (E Gori 71); A de Marchi (M Rizzo 57), L Ghiraldini (D Giazzon 71), M Castrogiovanni (L Cittadini 8), Q Geldenhuys, M Bortalami capt (A Pavanello 64); J Furno, P Derbyshire (M Vosawai 57), R Barbieri.

Referee: N Owens (WRU)

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