Ir­ish eyes are smil­ing af­ter sport­ing suc­cesses

Bray People - - OPINION -

NOT SINCE the days of Big Jack have Ire­land gar­nered such suc­cess over the auld en­emy Eng­land.

We plun­dered Chel­tenham, en­joy­ing a record num­ber of win­ners, re­cently em­bar­rassed them at cricket and on Satur­day capped it all off with a bril­liant Grand Slam-bust­ing per­for­mance at the Aviva Sta­dium.

Ire­land needed no more mo­ti­va­tion than the op­por­tu­nity to de­rail Eng­land’s sweet char­iot and Martin John­son’s men were well and truly sent pack­ing with their tail be­tween their legs.

In hind­sight it wasn’t a huge sur­prise, given that Ire­land had won six of their last seven matches against Eng­land be­fore Satur­day’s en­counter, and De­clan Kid­ney’s men were al­ways go­ing to be up for this one and were de­ter­mined to end a stut­ter­ing cam­paign with a morale-boost­ing win.

Of course, plenty will fo­cus on the what might have beens - if only we had taken that late try-scor­ing chance against France, if the ref­eree hadn’t made a balls of it against Wales or if we had con­verted a last­gasp scor­ing chance in Cardiff.

With a bit more com­po­sure we could well have been cel­e­brat­ing a Grand Slam our­selves rather than wreck­ing the dreams of oth­ers but there’s no point in look­ing back on a missed op­por­tu­nity, it’s best to gaze for­ward to a de­cent World Cup show­ing - let’s face it, it can’t get any worse than the last one.

As for Chel­tenham, Ir­ish train­ers had a week to re­mem­ber, amass­ing a mighty 13 win­ners at the show­piece fes­ti­val. The high­lights for this writer were the classy ‘Hur­ri­cane Fly’ com­ing up the hill in front in the Cham­pion Hur­dle, ‘Siz­ing Europe’ jump­ing his com­peti­tors into sub­mis­sion in the Cham­pion Chase, and the un­bri­dled joy on Paul Nolan’s face as ‘No­ble Prince’ ended his long Chel­tenham drought since ‘Dabiroun’ won the Fred Win­ter Hand­i­cap Hur­dle in 2005 when win­ning the Jew­son on Thurs­day.

Happy days.

Ire­land’s Brian O’Driscoll goes past Nick Easter to score a try.

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