Monday 15 October 2018

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

Brian O'Driscoll, Brian O'Meara and Victor Costello celebrate Leinster's victory over Munster in the 2001 Celtic League final
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, Ireland is tackled by Daniel Herbert, Australia, Australia v Ireland, Subiaco Oval, Perth in 1999 in one of his first caps
Brian O'Driscoll on his way to scoring his first ever try for Ireland against the USA in the 1999 Rugby World Cup
Brian O'Driscoll scores his first Six Nations try against Scotland in 2000 at Landsdowne Road
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates one of his three tries against France in 2000.
19 March 2000; Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll leaves french full back Emile Ntamack behind to score his third try
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates victory over France in the 2000 Six Nations
Brian O'Driscoll in action against the Springboks in 2000
Brian O'Driscoll makes his Barbarians debut in 2000
Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Henderson and Keith Wood joke around during the 2001 Lions tour
British and Irish Lions player Brian O'Driscoll breaks away to score the third try against Australia during the First Test match at The Gabba, Brisbane, 30th June 2001.
Brian O'Driscoll on his way to scoring his famous try against Australia in the First Test of the 2001 Lions Series.
Brian O'Driscoll tries to get out of a ruck in a game against Australia in 2002
Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan and Denis Hickie celebrate victory over Australia in 2002
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, kicks a drop goal in the narrow defeat to Australia at the 2003 Rugby World Cup
Brian O'Driscoll dives over in the corner for a try against Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates after Ireland's victory over England in Twickenham in 2004
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll celebrates with coach Eddie O'Sullivan at the end of the game versus Scotland in Lansdowne Road in 2004 after winning the Triple Crown
Brian O'Driscoll is forced to leave the field after being the victim of a spear tackle that ended his Lions Tour in 2005
BOD holds the Triple Crown trophy aloft after victory over England at Twickenham
Ireland's captain Brian O'Driscoll holds aloft the Triple Crown following the match against England at Twickenham, March 18, 2006.
Brian O'Driscoll dots down against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in 2007
Brian O'Driscoll dives over to score Ireland's first try during the final Pool D match at Parc des Princes in Paris during the 2007 Rugby World Cup
Brian O'Driscoll scores a brilliantly improvised try for Leinster against Wasps in the Pool Stages of the 2008/09 Heineken Cup
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll tackles Munster's Paul O'Connell during the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final in Croke Park.
Brian O'Driscoll races clear of Munster’s Ronan O’Gara, whose pass he intercepted, on his way to scoring his side’s third try in Leinster's Heineken Cup semi-final win at Croke Park in 2009
Rocky Elsom with team-mate Brian O'Driscoll in 2009 after Leinster's first Heineken Cup success
Brian O'Driscoll, Rocky Elsom, Felipe Contepomi and Gordon D'Arcy celebrate after Leinster's Heineken Cup victory in 2009
Brian O'Driscoll (centre) of Leinster raises the Heineken Cup after winning the Heineken Cup Final between Leicester Tigers and Leinster at Murrayfield on May 23, 2009
Brian with the Six Nations and Triple Crown trophies following Ireland's success in 2009
Brian O’Driscoll captained Ireland to first Grand Slam in 61 years
Brian O'Driscoll in action for the British and Irish Lions in 2009. Photo: Getty Images
Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman tied the knot in July 2010.
Shane Horgan lifting the Heineken Cup with Brian O’Driscoll in 2011. Sportsfile
Shane Horgan celebrates winning the 2011 Heineken Cup with team-mate and friend Brian O'Driscoll
Joe Schmidt with Brian O’Driscoll after the 2011 Heineken Cup final victory.
Brian O'Driscoll trudges off the pitch following Ireland's defeat to Wales in the Rugby World Cup Quarter final in 2011
Gordon D'Arcy, left, and Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster celebrate Leinster's victory in the Heineken Cup in 2011
19 May 2012; Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, celebrates after the game. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Ulster, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, England. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates after victory over Ulster. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Ulster, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, England. Photo: Sportsfile
Brian O'Driscoll shows his delight at winning the Lions Test series in Australia last year despite being omitted from the final test.
Brian O'Driscoll and his daughter Sadie following the British & Irish Lions victory last year
Brian O'Driscoll throws his boots into the crowd as he celebrates Leinster's win in the Rabodirect Pro12 Grand final last year at the RDS
Brian O'Driscoll on his great partnership with D'Arcy
Brian O'Driscoll sits in the sin bin during Ireland's Six Nations defeat to Italy last year
Brian O'Driscoll: Ireland's most capped centre has suffered multiple high-profile head injuries down the years, most notably during a game against England in 2009
Brian O'Driscoll and his father Frank. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Brian O'Driscoll reacts to the final minute try that helped New Zealand to a 24-22 win at the Aviva last November. BOD never tasted victory over the All Blacks.
Brian O'Driscoll is given a guard of honour at his final captain's run at the Aviva
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, celebrates with team-mate Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney at the final whistle.
Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton, left, and Brian O'Driscoll celebrates with the trophy following their side's victory
Brian O'Driscoll of Leinster, looks on during the Heineken Cup quarter final match between Toulon and Leinster in April
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
Brian O'Driscoll, Brian O'Meara and Victor Costello celebrate Leinster's victory over Munster in the 2001 Celtic League final

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.

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.

Brian O'Driscoll throws his boots into the crowd as he celebrates on Saturday


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