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Brian O'Driscoll. Photo by: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

A song for Dricco the great

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Brian O'Driscoll. Photo by: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

Now here’s a story you weren’t expecting to read – and Barry Manilow mightn’t be too happy to hear where the showgirl named Lola ended up on Saturday afternoon either.

At a time when those who had witnessed Ireland’s emphatic Six Nations win over Italy were finally leaving the Aviva Stadium, Brian O’Driscoll finally got into the winners’ dressing room.

After all, the back slapping and all the congratulations from those inside a jammed Lansdowne Road, it was time for Dricco to close the home locker room door one last time as an Ireland player.

As is the tradition on such occasions, the most capped player in world rugby was called upon to sing a song in front of his teammates.  It’s the norm when players first enter the Irish camp, in soccer as well by the way, and it’s the norm when they are about to leave as well.

Dricco isn’t gone just yet of course. He has one more big day in Paris on Saturday, potentially one of the biggest of them all if he can orchestrate an Ireland win against France that will all but seal the title and send him off in silverware style.

But last Saturday evening, as darkness descended on the edge of town, he took centrestage amidst the sweaty bodies and sang his party piece – “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow.

Lola the showgirl was the star of the show as O’Driscoll’s teammates joined in for the chorus – a move that helped to down him out as well according to coach Les Kiss.

He revealed on Tuesday, “We all joined in to help him out, let’s put it that way. No, he was good. I won’t talk too loudly on the vocal cords.”

Incredibly, after 15 years in the Ireland jersey, it took the penultimate game of his international career to highlight a weakness in the Brian O’Driscoll make-up – his singing!

So if, as expected, he decamps to Hollywood as his wife Amy chases an acting career in Tinseltown, Brian may struggle to pick up work as a lounge singer in the land that gave us showgirls like Lola.

The good news is that his heroics on the field for Leinster and Ireland have probably earned Dricco enough money now that he can chase the American dream without worrying about his vocal prowess.

And one other truth from those years in the green will serve as all the reminder he needs of the task Ireland face in Paris this Saturday in what will be his final final appearance for his country, if you know what I mean.

In the 15 years since O’Driscoll first played for Ireland, his team have only won one Six Nations game on French soil – although they have won World Cup games there.

That victory came in the year 2000 when a certain number 13 called Brian marked his arrival on the world stage with a hat-trick of tries.  

Ireland ended that season with nothing more that the memories of the only win in Paris in the last 42 years.

If they can beat the French on home turf this Saturday evening, not an easy task granted, the Irish players will secure the Six Nations title and give O’Driscoll the send-off he deserves.

Nothing less will do for player and team and fans this weekend. And who knows, Lola might even make it to the Moulin Rouge as part of the celebrations!

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

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