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Six Nations heroes have one last laugh before old rivalries set in

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Ian Madigan and Brian O'Driscoll with hospital staff.

Ian Madigan and Brian O'Driscoll with hospital staff.

Ian Madigan and Brian O'Driscoll with hospital staff.

THEY will battle it out as provincial rivals this weekend, but the Irish rugby team has enjoyed one last hurrah as Six Nations heroes.

Joe Schmidt's championship-winning side were welcomed to Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park yesterday for a State reception in honour of their recent success.

While the boys were laughing and joking with one another during the event, their old rivalries are just around the corner.

Leinster will take on Munster in the Rabodirect Pro12 on Saturday in a sold out clash at the Aviva Stadium. Blues out-half Ian Madigan told the Herald that it would be a hard afternoon on the pitch.

"It's going to be a really tough match," he said. "They beat us at Thomond Park earlier in the season, so it'll be tight and I'd expect nothing less. I think it will come down to key moments on the day.

SPECIAL

"With Munster and Leinster, there's always been great rivalry ."

Talking about the reception, he added: "It's very special to be invited along and it's interesting to get to meet the Minister for Sport."

"When we arrived back in Dublin and saw all the people there to meet us, it really sunk in what we have achieved."

Munster's Paul O'Connell said it was bizarre knowing the national team-mates would be putting their Six Nations victory behind them to go head-to-head this weekend.

"It's a sell out so it's going to be a day with incredible atmosphere," he added.

The Ireland players were commended for their on-field efforts by Ministers Leo Varadkar and Michael Ring at the civic reception.

Brian O'Driscoll, who signed autographs at a visit to Temple Street Children's Hospital, got a special mention in the speeches.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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