Photo by: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland
Ireland’s rugby heroes have dedicated their stirring Six Nations win over Wales and Warren Gatland to centre Brian O’Driscoll.
Tries from Chris Henry and Paddy Jackson helped Ireland to a 26-3 win against the champions at the Aviva Stadium.
It was the first time O’Driscoll has come up against Gatland since the Lions coach dropped him for the third and decisive test against Australia last summer.
And Ireland hooker Rory Best admitted the team did it for Drico as they set themselves up for a Triple Crown showdown with England at Twickenham on Saturday week.
Best said: “I think it wasn’t something we talked about, we knew full well about it though of course.
“You wouldn’t need to be a genius to work out all the stuff that’s been written in the summer and effectively ever since.
“But like I said, Drico didn’t go out of his way to prove any points one-on-one, he played within the team system like he’s done all his career, and yet again he was fantastic, to make sure that what’s important to us, the team performing and the team winning, to make sure that happened.”
Former Ireland coach Gatland had to admit that his Welsh team were played off the park by the home side.
But he insisted the reception he received from Ireland fans was ‘exemplary’ despite his decision to drop O’Driscoll last July.
He said: “They are probably the most respectful fans in the world. I’ve been overwhelmed the last couple of days the reception here and hospitality shown in Ireland.
“Everywhere I’ve gone people have just said good luck and enjoy the match.”
The one downside for Ireland was the suspected broken arm suffered by second row Dan Tuohy.
Coach Joe Schmidt refused to start thinking about a Triple Crown in his first season in charge as he digested the win over Wales.
Schmidt said: “I’m not going to think too far ahead but it’s certainly a gathering of confidence for us.
“The big, powerful team Wales brought today were always going to be tough opponents.
“They never quite got into the game really, they were perhaps not entirely match-fit some of them so in that respect I would suggest we were fortunate in some areas, and definitely benefited from that.
“We’ll get together again after a couple of days, review what we’ve done, take stock and work out how we can keep getting better. Then we’ll plot some sort of course forward going to Twickenham.
“That’s a massive game for us now; I think they were very unlucky against France and are an extremely powerful side.”