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Michael D Higgins and Enda Kenny lead the tributes for Ireland's Six Nations heroes

The President of Ireland, sports-mad Michael D Higgins, has led the tributes as Ireland secured back-to-back Six Nations titles following a sensational day of rugby.

In one of the most dramatic day of sports ever witnessed, Ireland clinched the title on points difference after England failed to beat France by more than 26 points - but it went right to the wire in Twickenham before the final whistle blew with England winning 55-35.

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the six nations trophy at Murrayfield Stadium. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the six nations trophy at Murrayfield Stadium. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Paul O'Connell (left), and Sean O'Brian with the six nations trophy. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Paul O'Connell (left), and Sean O'Brian with the six nations trophy. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Sean O'Brien of Ireland kisses the Six Nations trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Sean O'Brien of Ireland kisses the Six Nations trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell offers the trophy to the rest of the team.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell offers the trophy to the rest of the team. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Rob Kearney after winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Rob Kearney after winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the Six Nations Trophy (left), as Jamie Heaslip sprays his team with champagne. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the Six Nations Trophy (left), as Jamie Heaslip sprays his team with champagne. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Ireland celebrates winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland celebrates winning the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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 Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy as they celebrate. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Paul O'Connell lifts the six nations trophy as they celebrate. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Paul O'Connell celebrates with the Six Nations trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Paul O'Connell celebrates with the Six Nations trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Simon Zebo and Conor Murray of Ireland celebrate victory.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Simon Zebo and Conor Murray of Ireland celebrate victory. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Jamie Heaslip celebrates with the trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jamie Heaslip celebrates with the trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell lifts the trophy as his team mates celebrate.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell lifts the trophy as his team mates celebrate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner celebrate with the trophy.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner celebrate with the trophy. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell celebrates after the RBS Six Nations win.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell celebrates after the RBS Six Nations win. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Paul O' Connell (third right) and team mates celebrate after the RBS Six Nations match.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Paul O' Connell (third right) and team mates celebrate after the RBS Six Nations match. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Ireland players Jamie Heaslip (left) Rob Kearney (centre) and Sean O' Brien celebrate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ireland players Jamie Heaslip (left) Rob Kearney (centre) and Sean O' Brien celebrate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell carries his son Paddy from the pitch at the end of the game.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell carries his son Paddy from the pitch at the end of the game.

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Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne celebrate. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne celebrate. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Ireland's Connor Murray and Peter O'Mahony acknowledge the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland's Connor Murray and Peter O'Mahony acknowledge the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Jonathon Sexton scores a penalty. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Jonathon Sexton scores a penalty. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland's Peter O'Mahony acknowledges the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland's Peter O'Mahony acknowledges the applause from the crowd at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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Ireland's Jared Payne scoring a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland's Jared Payne scoring a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland's Jared Payne celebrates a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland's Jared Payne celebrates a try during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Ireland's Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Ireland's Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the match. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Paul O'Connell with the Centenary Quaich after the match. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Scotlands Jim Hamilton and Irelands Jamie Heaslip compete in a line out. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Scotlands Jim Hamilton and Irelands Jamie Heaslip compete in a line out. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Jonathan Sexton in action with Scotlands Finn Russell. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Jonathan Sexton in action with Scotlands Finn Russell. Reuters / Russell Cheyne

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Jared Payne is congratulated by team-mate Jonathan Sexton after scoring his side's third try.

Jared Payne is congratulated by team-mate Jonathan Sexton after scoring his side's third try.

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Jared Payne touches down to score his side's third try of the game.

Jared Payne touches down to score his side's third try of the game.

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Sean O'Brien scores his side's second try against Scotland.

Sean O'Brien scores his side's second try against Scotland.

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21 March 2015; Luke Fitzgerald, Ireland, is tackled by Stuart Hogg, Scotland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Luke Fitzgerald, Ireland, is tackled by Stuart Hogg, Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Jim Hamilton, Scotland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Jim Hamilton, Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Stuart Hogg, Scotland, is tackled by Paul O'Connell and Cian Healy, Ireland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Stuart Hogg, Scotland, is tackled by Paul O'Connell and Cian Healy, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Ireland supporters, from left, Richard, Daniel, Jack and Philip Boland, from The Curragh, Co. Kildare, ahead of the game.

Ireland supporters, from left, Richard, Daniel, Jack and Philip Boland, from The Curragh, Co. Kildare, ahead of the game.

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21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Finn Russell, left, and Matt Scott, Scotland.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Finn Russell, left, and Matt Scott, Scotland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Ireland supporter Betty Corcoran, originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, but living in Airdrie, Scotland, cheers the Ireland team's arrival into ground ahead of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland supporter Betty Corcoran, originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, but living in Airdrie, Scotland, cheers the Ireland team's arrival into ground ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Ireland supporters John, Nicola and Charlie Collins, from Ballsbridge, Dublin, cheer the Ireland team on their arrival ahead of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland supporters John, Nicola and Charlie Collins, from Ballsbridge, Dublin, cheer the Ireland team on their arrival ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Ireland's Luke Fitzgerald arrives into the ground ahead of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland's Luke Fitzgerald arrives into the ground ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Ireland's Sean O'Brien scores their second try of the game during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland's Sean O'Brien scores their second try of the game during the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

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21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game.  RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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Paul O'Connell of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield

Paul O'Connell of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell with the six nations trophy at Murrayfield Stadium. Photo: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

“I want to congratulate this great Irish team on winning the Six Nations Rugby Championship today; winning this prestigious competition in successive years is a remarkable achievement," said Mr Higgins.

"The earlier win against Scotland demonstrated the commitment, determination and professionalism of this outstanding group of players and their management team. All of us now look forward to the continuing success of this team at the World Cup later this year.

“I also wish the Irish women’s rugby team every success in their match against Scotland tomorrow.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also sent his congratulations on behalf of all Irish people to captain Paul O'Connell and the Irish team and staff involved in today's historic achievement.

"Following Wales' comprehensive victory over Italy today, the task faced by Paul O'Connell and his warriors was enormous, but the guile and flair shown by the Irish team was a sight to behold," said Mr Kenny.

"I want to congratulate them on behalf of the Irish people, and the Government, on their victory and thank them sincerely for providing such excitement and joy to Irish sports fans at home and abroad. We look forward now with hope and confidence to the World Cup later this year."

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