Monday 23 April 2018

Amy's look of love as 50,000 unite to hail rugby hero Brian

Brian O’Driscoll is greeted by wife Amy and daughter Sadie after leaving the pitch with an injury.
Brian O’Driscoll is greeted by wife Amy and daughter Sadie after leaving the pitch with an injury.
Conor George

Conor George

THE look of love on Amy Huberman's face said it all.

Bloodied but unbowed, her husband Brian O'Driscoll limped by after once again putting his body and soul on the line for the cause of Irish rugby.

Standing in the freezing rain with their baby girl Sadie strapped to her, and with a blue plastic rain sheet draped over her head, Amy reached out a hand to console her man.

Around them, 50,000 supporters, both Irish and French, joined to salute the greatest player this country has ever produced.

The marvellous tribute paid to O'Driscoll by a full house at the Aviva Stadium was as remarkable as it was predictable. They rose as one to acclaim their hero, a man who has given more in the service of his country than any man should be asked to sacrifice.

But that's what makes O'Driscoll so special. He's never had to be asked. For this warrior poet, playing for Ireland has always been a matter of course and a badge of honour.

The game was 71 minutes old when O'Driscoll had to be helped from the pitch. His left leg clearly couldn't take his weight anymore and he used the team masseur as his crutch.

He was bloodied too, his left ear having become acquainted with a French boot, but that was only a minor irritation. As he slowly and painfully made his way from the pitch, they stood and applauded.

Iconic

The tribute reflected the popularity of one of rugby's favourite sons, an iconic figure who graced the biggest stadiums of the world and, in the most challenging of situations, lit them up with the grace, beauty and courage of his play.

O'Driscoll has been an Irish icon for 14 years and has earned a special place in the affections of the Ireland supporters with a string of performances that have lifted him above mortal status.

Leaving the field, however, was only the end of act one. Four minutes later O'Driscoll returned and the initial ovation paled in comparison to the eruption that greeted his return.

As has been his custom for the past 14 years, he wasn't going to be found wanting when his country needed him. Such selflessness speaks volumes for his commitment.

Surely the most enduring image from Saturday was the sight of a tear-stained Amy Huberman, with baby Sadie strapped to her chest and sheltered from the near Arctic conditions, greeting her husband.

Sadie O'Driscoll will not remember seeing her father play the game he has mastered. She will hear the stories. She will, in years to come, revel in hearing just how good her 'old man' was.

For O'Driscoll has always been superb no matter the uniform. Be it the navy of Leinster, the blood red of the Lions or the green of Ireland, he has always been the yardstick, cajoling and supporting his colleagues at every turn and breaking himself to devastating effect.

And if Saturday does turn out to be the last time O'Driscoll represents his country at home, Sadie will be able to say she was there.

Irish Independent

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