Victorious Ireland team welcomed home

Published Sunday, 16 March 2014
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Ireland have returned home to a heroes' welcome as hundreds of fans turned out to greet the newly-crowned Six Nations champions in Dublin on Sunday.

Victorious Ireland team welcomed home
Brian O'Driscoll signs autographs at Dublin Airport. (© Getty)

The team arrived into Dublin Airport a little behind schedule with the silverware, marking the last time Brian O'Driscoll will make the journey home as an international player.

Ireland clinched the Six Nations title on Saturday on the 35-year-old's final team appearance with a dramatic 22-20 victory over France in Paris.

O'Driscoll ended his 15-year international career, with 141 caps, and Ireland's second win in 42 years in Paris.

At a post-match press conference in the French capital, he said: "I played on for one more year for, hopeful to get a victory against the All Blacks - it didn't happen - and to win a 6 Nations and that did happen.

"So you can't have it all - but take the bits that you get and it's been a fantastic 6 Nations for us.

He told reporters he didn't really want to take his jersey off "because I know when I take it off that'll be the last time".

On Saturday Head Coach Joe Schmidt paid tribute to the retiring icon.

"I've worked with Brian for four years now and he's a man I respect immensely. He's a player that I really enjoy coaching.

"I think he's been quietly grooming a couple of guys to come in. I don't think they'll suddenly fill his shoes... we'll have to put in someone who's got slightly smaller feet but hopefully they can grow into them."

He said the team were very conscious it was O'Driscoll's last ever game in the green jersey.

"They were very conscious that it would be his last game and they wanted to make sure that it would be special for him. And I think they achieved that," he said.

At Dublin Airport, Ireland captain Paul O'Connell said: "When we came off the pitch there was definitely a bit of a feeling of, you know, it's the end of an era, it's the end of something special.

"And I think it'll probably sink in more over the next few weeks."

Ireland hooker Rory Best added: "Obviously with Brian playing his last game, there was so much emotion, so much at stake.

"The last 90 seconds...I don't know what it was like for you at home but sitting on the bench it was incredibly nerve-wracking."

© UTV News
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