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A day to remember for the rest of our lives, and even longer


Ireland supporters Molly Cullen and Katie McAleer in Edinburgh ahead of the game. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland supporters Molly Cullen and Katie McAleer in Edinburgh ahead of the game. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland supporters Molly Cullen and Katie McAleer in Edinburgh ahead of the game. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

This was a day we will remember for the rest of our lives - and even longer. For surely the gods played their part in scripting a drama that had us so far out on the edge of our seats we needed to be tightly strapped in, as if we were on a mad ride in Euro Disney.

Our country has always lost on days such as this. There was always a hard luck story, the missed kick or a dodgy ref, or the haunted goal post that was an extra defender - but not yesterday.

Yesterday we won. We won and we cried and we laughed.

The slack wire was soaped but our boys never fell off, even if we did ride our luck in that frantic French-English endgame. The pubs will do well, but the nail-bars will make even more. My nerves are prickling like the soles of a barefoot sweeper-upper in a thumb-tack factory.

So many of us jumped for joy, the Richter scale registered a seismic disturbance on a small island on the edge of the western world at about five to seven on a March evening. Ireland bested the might of England and Wales, countries we could be fitted into like the slot in the wallet for the credit card. We won a moral victory - and the match too, for the first time ever.

And when the grandchildren ask for a bedtime story we will tell them of fairy tales from Murrayfield, Twickenham and Rome. But this will be a true fairytale of how brave Irish men pushed the giant from the top of the beanstalk.

Yes there was an element of fantasy about the whole affair. These sort of games only ever occur in the fevered imaginations of small boys and girls kicking the ball up against the gable end of a house

And already it seems so far away, like a part of history. So maybe the day never happened and when we wake up it will be but a dream.

But the reality will hit all of our players when their bodies ache and scream this morning. There was heroism here, and glory too - and not just for the winners. England, Wales and France were runners-up and they too played their part on a day when the drama lasted for seven hours.

The whole nation was stuck fast to the televisions like periwinkles on the day of an orange warning. The storyline like the full moon dragging an ocean, we had no say in where we were going.

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All three games were unscripted, spontaneous, skilful, ferocious, nerve-wracking, balletic -and above all madly dramatic. Ireland witnessed moments of sheer madness when the cracked and romantic France went so far off-piste they finished up on the beach.

"Will ye kick it out of play! Kick it!" we screamed.

But the French wanted farce and drama all in one. The ball was finally burst when the fat lad's final note rang out over Twickenham. It took referee Owens an eternity to blow up. Maybe in the excitement he just forgot - but when he blew the one-note requiem for England, joy unconfined exploded out of us in a mad burst.

But all through, we knew there will always be an Ireland. This was a win for Ireland - all of Ireland, north and south. Rugby has always been an All-Ireland game. As Moss Keane said, there was never a border in an Irish dressing room. It was a day for all of us to bank in a place where memory records great deeds.

"Tell that story again Granddad , the one about the day the matches went on for seven hours and the good lads won."

"Well there was team called Ireland who came from a very small island..."

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