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Irish dreams of a Grand Slam come crashing down in the land where fairy tales are made

This weekend was meant to be the stuff of fairy tales.

In the birthplace of Roald Dahl, the children's author and legendary son of Cardiff - a giant, Paul O'Connell, had come to slay the dragons in a foreign land.

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Wales players celebrate at the end of the match
Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs
Livepic

Wales players celebrate at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic

REUTERS

Wales players celebrate at the end of the match as Ireland players look dejected
Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs
Livepic

Wales players celebrate at the end of the match as Ireland players look dejected Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic

REUTERS

/

Wales players celebrate at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic

But it wasn't to be.

Not even a fearsome O Connell on his 100th cap, who had brought with him 14 of his finest warriors, could carry it over the line.

At 2.30pm today they filed out of the tunnel into the steel colosseum ready for battle, buoyed by the roar of thousands of home supporters surrounding the Millennium Stadium.

But the Welsh were in the mood for a brutal slaying.

Just before kick off, flames 20ft high, burst through the ground, exploding into fireworks overhead and a regiment of the Welsh army, white feathers in caps, marched out onto centre field.

This was war.

The crowd was so loud, you could feel their chants reverberate in your chest and down into the back of seats.

With faces painted the colour of blood, their dragon flags and giant posters created a vision of hell to destabilise our valiant Irish warriors.

"Oggy Oggy Oggy" they roared, as the Welsh team lit up the first half of the match.

Although the Welsh are said to share a kindred spirit with the Irish, there was no mistaking that we were on hostile territory this weekend.

At Cardiff Castle, where gargoyle-like statues of hyenas and wolves climb menacingly over the medieval walls, they had gathered in their droves.

They had come down from the valleys, and miles around, to defend their national pride.

Rugby is a working class game here, where the original players built up their physicality in the mines.

Every village has its own male choir- adding to their force in the stands and it's ingrained in their psyche never to yield or buckle.

Dylan Thomas, their national poets' most celebrated verse: "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light" is etched in their conscience.

This afternoon, you could feel it.

The mighty reds didn't care what winning streak we were on, they were intent on putting a stop to the party.

In the second half they sealed the deal.

The final whistle brought sullen faces.

As the sun began to set over the castle walls this evening, a chorus of 'Hymns and Arias' led the Welsh out onto the streets. Whistling, waling, they left the Irish to slowly retire to the bars to regroup and plan for what comes next.

A harsh lesson learned that life doesn't always end in fairy tales and even our national heroes are sometimes only human.

Next stop Edinburgh and a pack of mighty Scottish warriors await.

In the meantime, our dream of a 2015 Six Nations championship now hangs on a thread. But even Dahl himself, the self described "dreamer of dreams" would tell us that nothing is impossible-if we have a little faith.

Online Editors


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