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Saturday May 4, 2024

'I breathed a big sigh of relief' - Brian O'Driscoll

In the pantheon of rugby icons former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll sits firmly among the top tier of players to ever grace the rugby pitch.

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Close to unstoppable at points, the former centre had every intangible required to take over a match singlehandedly.

Since hanging up his boots in 2014, the 45-year-old has gone on to establish a career as one of the best pundits in the game.

Brian O’Driscoll At His Sublime Best

Speaking as a regular guest on the Irish sports radio show ‘Off The Ball’, O’Driscoll revisited the moment the Leinster dynasty was born.

Facing bitter rivals Munster at a sold-out Croke Park Stadium in a historic Heineken Cup semi-final, Leinster were desperate to shake the tag of underachievers.

For years the Dublin based outfit had struggled to leave their mark on the Heineken Cup whilst their southern rivals Munster were fresh off claiming their second title.

Coached by the no-nonsense Australian Michael Cheika, Leinster entered 2009 knowing that they would likely have to beat their local rivals at some point to claim the Cup.

What unfolded on that historic day at Croke Park was a drubbing to end all drubbings as O’Driscoll and his teammates secured a 25 – 6 win to book a place in the final against Leicester Tigers.

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Winning the final 19 – 16 would begin what has become a dynasty, as the men in Blue would go on to claim three more European Cup titles as well as several league titles.

Discussing the match, O’Driscoll was asked about his now famous intercept on long-time Ireland teammate Ronan O’Gara.

Referring to the moment that there was a true change of the guard in Irish rugby, O’Driscoll delved into the play from his perspective.

“Initially, the sense is the stupidity of trying to go for an intercept that far out.

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“When you realise the first part is the easy bit, but the second part of when you’re busting a gut big time towards the end of the game, there’s been a big sequence of play, and you’ve had a big defensive set.

“Then all of a sudden, you make a foolish decision to intercept something with the prospect of 70 yards still to go and the stresses of a Doug Howlett chasing you down or somebody else.

“So I suppose I breathed a big sigh of relief when I turned around and realised that ROG (O’Gara) was the only one chasing me!” He said with a grin and chuckle.

Continuing the story, O’Driscoll tried to give his former teammate a slight glimmer of credit, saying, “I remember running and getting into the 22, and I wasn’t pulling away from ROG.

“But I was very comfortable, and I remember thinking just as I was about to go over the line, wouldn’t it be hilarious if I copied him in 06 and actually scaled the hoardings over the back?

“But then I thought, I have just run 70 meters; there’s every chance I’ll snot myself if I do that so just dot it down!”

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