Yes, I know.
This is only the second time in 42 years that Ireland beat France at home.
It’s only the second time we’ve won the Six Nations.
I know. I know.
Brian O’Driscoll, possibly the greatest player ever, was ending his international career in the same place where he burst onto the world rugby scene with three amazing tries when he was barely more than a kid.
That’s all true, but what’s a State broadcaster to do — continue coverage of a spectacular national sporting achievement, or cut it short and switch to Goldfinger? Well, that’s RTÉ for you. No point disrupting the schedules when a 50-year-old Bond film needs to be shown. Again.
Great, isn’t it? That’s it from us here at Stade de France. You’re probably sick of all this euphoria anyway, so now we’ll hand you over to an ancient misogynistic parody that you could probably buy for fifty cents in any charity shop.
Oh well. What are you gonna do?
After you’ve finished biting lumps out of the TV, there’s little option but to sit back and enjoy the absurdity of the programming decision that has you laughing at the most hackneyed lines in filmic history.
No, Mister Sexton, expect you to score.
And in fairness to Jonny, he did, though not in the way we might expect, running in two fine tries but missing two kicks that my Auntie Bridie might have managed in her good high heels and handbag. We shouldn’t laugh at Jonny, but we do anyway and it’s not a Munster thing, even though ROG has those nerves of steel that Jonny lacks in moments of extreme psychological pressure.
As the game progressed, my beloved daughter announced that we were all going to be rich. It’s true, she said. All we have to do is buy thousands of those inflatable things you can’t knock over and put his face on them.
It’s not Jonny’s fault that he looks like he was craned out of a protein-rich growing-tank half an hour ago, all pink and slithery, without a single line or crease. That’s not his fault, and yet, so many people think he has an eminently punchable face. Isn’t that awful? How shallow are people?
It’s not as if ROG is any sort of oil painting, but at least he doesn’t look like he’s been fitted with the latest human-like synth-skin. And the manufacturers worked harder on realistic facial features. Jonny Sexton looks like the sort of kid who wouldn’t share has sweets, while Ronan just looks like Father Dougal with that vacant stare and fixed grin when he looks at the camera.
But enough silly, flippant piss-taking. Instead, let’s have some silly bragging.
You see, I’m usually wrong about most things, including sport,and I rarely call the outcome of a contest correctly, but this time, somehow, I thought Ireland could do it, and I’ve stuck my neck out on it since the start, telling anyone who’d listen that Ireland could win in France.
Why? Because technical skill is no longer the issue. Fitness and strength are no longer factors.
In years gone by, I can remember a time, as most others can too, when the best we hoped for was a good first half followed by a small margin when they beat us but that was then and this is now. What did the Irish lads take with them to France today? Yes, it was professionalism and yes it was skill. True, it was determination and athleticism and strength but they’ve done that before and they’ve lost.
Today, they had belief. That’s it.
What about this great team, though? Who could not have felt an upwelling of manly tears as BOD celebrated perhaps his finest, climactic moment? Who could be unmoved by D’Arcy’s messianic beard? Who could not have shouted YEAH! as Paulie reached into the ruck and said, I’ll have that ball, thank you very much?
Should I go on? I’ll go on. Who could not have screamed their hands off as BOD shattered the gain-line and Conor Murray ghosted through the French defence before offloading for the sweetest of tries from Andrew Trimble?
Who could not have felt for these guys as a repeat of the New Zealand game loomed?
Ah come on. Not even the most committed unbeliever could fail to be swept away on the emotion of this amazing day. True, it’s not 2009 again. It’s not the Grand Slam, but it’s the greatest player ever, book-ending his career with two magnificent wins in Paris and, you know, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.
You just had to look at the demeanour of these lads as they carried the trophy around the stadium to recognise that this is a remarkable, decent, ego-free bunch of guys who deserve every last inch of our respect.
BOD didn’t end his career with a try, but I’m betting he cares not one jot and neither do I.
A great day for Irish sport and a great day for one of Ireland’s greatest sportsmen.
Personally, I contributed nothing to this victory, but to those who scoffed when I told them we’d win this match, I say, Hey, wasn’t it great?