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02nd Jan 2016

8 moments Irish rugby sent our spirits soaring

Highs and lows

Patrick McCarry

2015 was a year that promised so much, delivered a second, successive Six Nations title and still left us feeling deflated.

We expect a lot from our senior men’s rugby team but there is no harm in that.

2015 began with Ireland steaming towards the Six Nations championship and an all-time record of 11 wins in a row. Joe Schmidt’s men were derailed in Wales but rallied to put a big number on Scotland and clinch the crown.

Thrashing the Welsh in our first World Cup warm-up had us giddy, as did our first two games at the tournament. Reality, and injuries, soon caught up.

The year ends with Ireland without a captain, a forwards coach and our next chance for World Cup redemption way away.  Still, this is a tale about soaring spirits so let’s get to it.

Sean O’Brien’s double ruck clear-out against France

The Tullow Tank set the tone in an 18-11 victory over Les Bleus. It was O’Brien’s first Test match back after prolonged injuries but he did not hold back.

Robbie Henshaw making a mug out of Alex Goode

The third Six Nations win in and a row and one that had us openly talking about Grand Slams. Henshaw’s GAA skills were praised during this move.

No mention of GAA when England doled out similar punishment to us in a World Cup warm-up.

Paul O’Connell sets the try-scoring tone in Scotland

Wales had us fishing out the old solar-powered calculator and hoping to Joe that he let his players off the leash.

Ireland needed to beat the Scots by 25 points and early tries were the order of the day. Captain O’Connell stepped up and the floodgates soon opened.

Jamie Heaslip’s last-ditch tackle

We knew it was vital at the time but we only knew how vital after England roasted the French at Twickenham.

The Ireland No.8 never gave up for a moment as he tracked a sweeping Scottish move, with minutes left on the clock, and held Stuart Hogg up over the line.

Johnny Sexton’s scything try against Canada

Ireland came into the World Cup off the back of two friendly losses and with both Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton needing to find form.

Murray had a good outing, in a 50-7 win, but Sexton’s performance was electric. He set the attacking tone and scored a fine try in the process.

Ireland’s Call at Wembley Stadium

The Irish fans were already in England in droves but this drove home how much support the team had.

At a record-breaking, sold-out Wembley, the ground reverberated to all catch-all rugby tune.

Peter O’Mahony’s 54 minutes of fury against France

The Munster forward had a superb tournament and, having prevented an Italian try at the Olympic Stadium, stepped up against France when his country needed him.

He started off like a rabid dog and harried the French players from the first whistle until, 54 minutes in, his knee gave out.

Peter O'Mahony 11/10/2015

Future Ireland captain.

Jordi Murphy’s try against Argentina

Ireland were 17-0 down just after 15 minutes of their World Cup final and all looked lost.

Luke Fitzgerald sparked a comeback and then teed up Leinster colleague Murphy for a try that had us within three points of los Pumas.

Unfortunately, we never got closer.

Here’s to 2016.

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