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Andy Farrell hails Johnny Sexton as ‘the best player ever to play for Ireland’ after Grand Slam glory


Johnny Sexton won a fourth Six Nations medal this evening. Image: Sportsfile.

Johnny Sexton won a fourth Six Nations medal this evening. Image: Sportsfile.

Johnny Sexton won a fourth Six Nations medal this evening. Image: Sportsfile.

Andy Farrell has hailed Johnny Sexton as Ireland's greatest player after the skipper lifted the Six Nations trophy to secure his fourth title and second Grand Slam, the first as captain.

The head coach believes Ireland can get even better after managing their fourth bonus-point win in five Championship games against England, as they overcame stiff opposition and their own jitters to get over the line at a raucous Aviva Stadium.

Farrell paid tribute to his wider squad, all of whom were welcomed into the dressing-room for the celebrations.

And he said their leader set the tone with his performances.

"I'm just so glad for the group, it's just so fitting when you look at the year that we've had. To be able to finish it off like that is so deserving in so many ways," Farrell said.

"Garry Ringrose, getting his 50th last week and he couldn't receive his 50th cap so we've just given it to him now in the changing rooms.

"Josh van der Flier, what a season he's had. What a fitting moment it is to get his 50th cap on such an occasion like that.

"For captain Johnny here to finish his Six Nations campaign; he's been saying all week that this is what dreams are made of, it doesn't come around that often.

"It's unbelievably fitting that in my opinion the best player ever to play for Ireland is able to sign off on a Grand Slam on St Patrick's Day, in front of his home crowd.

"Just, there's a lot of stars that have aligned over the last eight weeks and accumulated into this evening."

Farrell said the players would spend the next two days soaking up their success, before attention turns to backing up their series win over New Zealand and this Six Nations success at the World Cup later this year,

"I've just been saying to Johnny that there's bigger fish to fry than this, you know?" he smiled.

"We're on to the World Cup... no we're not, we're going to enjoy the next 48 hours 100pc.

"But, we're a good side that's nowhere reached our potential.

"I kept saying over the last couple of weeks that that's what we are striving to do.

"Like Johnny said, we'll get a few people back to compete and to train hard and, you know, everyone is going to get better in the summer.

"We'll spend a lot more time together, so we expect our side when we get to the first game of the World Cup to be a lot better than we are. That's the reality."

At the start of his post-match press conference, Farrell admitted that he was finding the whole day surreal.

"I don’t actually know," he said when asked how he feels.

"I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, bit sad. I don’t know. It’s a weird feeling at this moment in time.

"I’m just elated for the boys, just to get it over the line. Because it meant so much for them, especially being here, at home.

"Only the fourth one in Irish history, you know? And the first one at home (Dublin), you know, it’s a special occasion, especially with the weekend that’s been, outside our hotel et cetera you know what I mean?

"So, we felt a duty that we couldn’t let people down. I would say there is a sense of relief to get the job. But immensely proud. Grand Slams are not just won on nights like this. They’re won not just over the eight-year period but all the time that we’ve been together, we’ve been building towards this. I’m just glad we got the job done."

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