Friday 20 September 2019

ROG, anthems and a coin toss - just some of our readers' favourite Irish rugby moments


Ronan O’Gara wheels away in delight having landed what turned out to be the Grand Slam winning drop goal against Wales in 2009. Photo: Sportsfile
Ronan O’Gara wheels away in delight having landed what turned out to be the Grand Slam winning drop goal against Wales in 2009. Photo: Sportsfile

Tony Ward's feature on his own 10 immortal moments in Irish rugby in last Saturday's Irish Independent sparked an enormous response from our readers. Here, we reprint a cross-section of the replies we received and it's clear that our Green giants have given us plenty of great days to choose from

Conor Hartigan, Limerick: My father took me to see Ireland play Australia in 1991. I was only 10; I watched the match from the east stand, I was too small to see Gordon Hamilton score his famous try in the corner! I can only remember the sounds of the rows and rows of seats lifting as he ran to the corner . . . had to wait till I got home to Limerick to see the try.  I will never forget the roars . . .

Janette Moriarty, Kerry: Ronan O'Gara's drop-goal to clinch the Grand Slam against Wales in 2009 - watching from a sports bar in Budapest when he kicked the ball. The satellite feed dropped and the entire bar went silent until the feed kicked back in to see the kick make it over the posts. It was a great weekend as a result!

Avril Needham, Dublin: 5th Nov 2016. Chicago. Soldier Field. 111 years. 40 points to 29. Enough to raise the hairs on every Irish fan's neck. No adjectives needed!

Lina Ryan, Tipperary: Ireland v England in Croke Park and the tears flowing down the face of the collossus that is John Hayes, him crying like a baby during that very special rendition of the National Anthem. It epitomised what being Irish is and the extra special bond there is between Irish sports people and Croke Park. Never more proud to be Irish to see the respect shown for the English anthem 'God Save the Queen', followed by the passion of the singing of 'Amhrán na bhFiann' by the team and fans alike. Truly special.

Derek Matthews, Dublin: There are so many but mine has to be the era-defining victory over New Zealand in Chicago. Right from the start when the iconic '8 for Axel' neutralised the Haka, all the way to the knockout fifth try from Henshaw, Ireland were truly immense. Sexton led like a four-star general, Murray was our sniper and Furlong was our tank but they all battled like warriors, fitting for Soldier Field. Flags flew, pints were drank and the All Black monkey was finally off our back. A proud day for Irish rugby that I will never ever forget.

Paul Rice, Antrim: It was the 2009 Six Nations. Final match in Cardiff. Two minutes before the end of the match Ronan O'Gara's drop goal gives Ireland a two-point lead, cancelling the Jones drop goal from moments earlier. With seconds of the game left Wales gets a penalty and Stephen Jones steps up to try and finish the game with a penalty from the middle of the pitch. 15 Irish men on the pitch and all of them trying not to jinx the final moment. Stephen's kick had a perfect angle but it wasn't until halfway that it became clear it might not have legs and ended up about 70cm from hitting the crossbar.

Alan O'Connor, Kerry: My immortal moment has to be the first rugby international I attended. It was 2009 in Croke Park, Ireland hosting Australia. Cian Healy made his debut the same day. Minutes to go Ireland were 20-13 down and who makes a line break and runs straight in under the posts? BOD. 20-20. I nearly fell out of the Upper Davin stand with the excitement of the moment and that was a game with nothing at stake!

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Michelle Hatch, Dublin: My favourite moment was when our mighty men beat England in Croke Park in 2007. I lost my voice that day screaming and shouting and will never forget the pride, the excitement and the celebrations during and afterwards. It was the first rugby match in Croker and there was a real sense of occasion. BOD played a blinder and I can't remember what the final score was but we won by a long shot. A very happy memory.

Tony Waldron, Dublin: When I did the coin toss during 2015 World Cup in Olympic Stadium with Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, Italy captain Sergio Parisse and witnessed by French referee Jerome Garces. This was especially immortal to me, as not only was this a magic moment for me but also the last game for Paul before his devastating injury during the France v Ireland game the following week - thus ending Paul's international career.

Liam Holmes, Cork: Brian O'Driscoll's hat-trick of tries against France in 2000. He announced to the world in one game he had arrived!

Marie Smyth, Dublin: Ireland v England in Croke Park (2007). The atmosphere in the stadium, from the National Anthems through to the game itself was electric. And the respect shown by both fans and players alike made it not just a memorable rugby moment but in my opinion one of Ireland's great sporting moments.

Neil Williams, Wexford: The anticipation was felt by everyone that day. Ireland and England lined up and the National Anthems were about to start. There was a nervous undertone as 'God Save the Queen' was about to start. Do I boo if the crowd boo? What will happen? Will the crowd respect the English anthem? Will I? All of these questions in a split second. As the anthem starts there is silence. Respect for the English team is given. Next 'Amhrán na bhFiann' starts and we sing so that the whole of Ireland can hear us. What a day. What a fantastic result.

Tom Kennedy, Kerry: It was the first Ireland match I was ever at with my father, 1991 World Cup Quarter-final against Australia at Lansdowne Road. That Gordon Hamilton try was something very special - that's as close as we've ever gotten to a WC Semi-final still!

Luke McGahern, Dublin: For me it had to be Shane Horgan in the corner of Twickenham 2006 to snatch victory on St Patrick's Day. Well, luckily enough I'll be there this Patrick's Day and it would be great to add to the experience of this Six Nations with more drama against the Welsh first.

Jessica Hewitt, Limerick: Watching Ireland beat the All Blacks in Chicago! It spurred me to shell out hundreds of euros in treating my friends to some nosebleed-high seats in the Aviva for the rematch. It was such an amazing couple of games to watch. I loved the All Blacks growing up and cheered for Ireland as well, but I really got behind Irish rugby once I moved over here in 2015 and started playing with my college. I got to be coached by some female Irish Rugby athletes and watched the Munster men train and play away. I got a real feel of how much went into the sweet, sweet victory in Chicago.

Peter Golden, Wicklow: My favourite moment was seeing Ireland beat England 13-10 at Lansdowne Road back in 1985. It was my first time in Lansdowne, went there with my dad. We saw Brendan Mullin score a cracking try and Ireland won the Five Nations!!

Caroline O'Connell, Meath: It has to be the Ireland-England match in Croke Park in 2007. There was so much talk and discussion before the decision was made and it showed how much we have come on as a country, and then the result wasn't too bad either!

Sarah Pierce, Dublin: Shane Horgan's try v England in Twickenham to secure the Triple Crown in 2007. It was the first ever away match I was at and the atmosphere was electric. The English fans were great, gave my dad a round of applause for his enthusiastic singing of 'Ireland's Call' and shook our hands at the end. Such a great memory to share with the man who got me into rugby in the first place. I'd love to create more memories with him at the Welsh game.

Declan Harty, Cork: When Wales and Scotland failed to travel during the 'Troubles'; England came to town (1973) and received a standing ovation - a truly magic moment in my life.

Peter Carr, Galway: The first memory I have of watching a rugby match and memorising every step he took was watching Noel Mannion's try against Wales at Cardiff in 1989. Because he is also from Galway, that 70 yards meant so much to me and made me proud to be Irish.

Bob Quilty, Wexford: Paul O'Connell's iconic lineout take against England in Croke Park. It was so good it featured on a Rugby World Cup 2007 stamp.

Mark Trundle, Kildare: My son had broken his leg on the rugby pitch on the day and we weren't sure we would make it back from Tallaght Hospital in time for the Wales v ireland showdown in 2009. ROG took his shot at goal - I leapt out of my skin and my son nearly leapt out of his cast!

Michael Moriarty, Kerry: The criss-cross try Ireland scored v England in 1964. My first live international on TV. 21-year-old Mike Gibson, making his debut at out-half, made a brilliant break and sold a delightful dummy followed by a precise reverse pass to centre Jerry Walsh who fed winger Pat Casey going in the opposite direction to score under the posts - magic and Ireland won 18-5.

Neil Gaffney, Dublin: My greatest moment in Irish rugby was Ireland v England in Croke park in 2007. Standing in the Hogan Stand for 'Amhrán na bhFiann', watching the tears roll down everyone's cheeks followed by one of the greatest displays by an Irish team and a comprehensive win. Hard to beat.

Dermot Doheny, Limerick: 'Ginger' McLoughlin's try against 'the Auld Enemy' in 1982. Resembling the Incredible Hulk and with a little help from his friends in the pack, nothing was going to stop him scoring. Thirty-six years later, it's still fresh in my mind.

Andrea Lee Dunphy, Meath: Rob Kearney's try v New Zealand in 2013 brrought pride and joy to a hurting nation. In that moment we forgot our troubles and revelled in the happiness of greatness.

  • The winner of the two tickets to the Ireland v Wales game will be announced in Monday's paper

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