O'Driscoll the great has Irish believing in BOD

You do not have to be Irish to appreciate greatness in green. When Brian O'Driscoll crossed the line for Ireland's second try he eclipsed a record established 78 years ago by Ian Smith, the "Flying Scot", for the number of tries scored in the Five or Six Nations' Championship. That O'Driscoll has taken rather longer to achieve it than Smith is neither here nor there.

O'Driscoll, 32 and in his 112th Test (all but one of which he has started), has been an adornment of the modern era. Smith played in 32 games between 1924 and 1933, a career of considerable longevity for those days, and scored 24 tries; O'Driscoll made his Ireland debut in 1999 and now has 25 (and 44 in all internationals) as well as the respect of both hemispheres and the captaincy of his country and the Lions.

He has been a lodestar for Ireland, in bad times as well as good, and if Matt Banahan, who may become a regular in the England centre, remembers anything of yesterday it should be that he played against one of the greats.

There is a phrase beloved of coaches, that their side tried to play too much rugby. England tried to do that, displayed their naivety, and within a half-hour were 14 points down. The definitive figures were in green – Jonathan Sexton, Tommy Bowe, Sean O'Brien – and at their backs they could call on so much experience. Twice as much as England, in fact. Throughout this Six Nations England have been the least experienced of teams, even more so here for the absence of their injured captain, Mike Tindall. When England last won in Dublin, in 2003, they had been there and done itand Tindall was a young man surrounded by quality.

Here, England tried to play without putting building blocks in place and Ireland preyed on every error. Declan Kidney and his coaching staff, much criticised in their own land for a lacklustre return this season, had noted England's perceived strengths at scrum time, at half-back, in the back three, and then blunted each of them. At the first scrum, Ireland forced a penalty. They created blind alleys for Ben Youngs to run up and, as it turned out, towards a yellow card.

If there was a wandering wing to be seen, the role for which Chris Ashton has been so widely praised, it was Bowe. The Osprey came into this match with 38 caps, together with experience of a Grand Slam and a Lions tour the same year, 2009. Ashton, winning his 11th cap, has none of these things; he is a player of considerable promise but he is, like his team, a work in progress.

Ireland's mood coming into the game was grim. Kidney coached them to that Slam, then to second place last year, and now the best they could hope for was third, reviving memories of 2007, when their preparation for the World Cup fell further apart the nearer the global tournament came. Aside from that has been the issue over the No 10 jersey and whether Sexton, the younger man, should start ahead of the veteran Ronan O'Gara.

Ireland have been here before, of course, with O'Gara and David Humphreys and with Ollie Campbell and Tony Ward in the 1970s. Nor did Sexton have the greatest of games in Cardiff eight days ago, when he replaced O'Gara. But yesterday evening he put all that behind him. When England were at their most vulnerable, early in the game, his tactical kicking was everything that even O'Gara would have wanted; he kicked his goals and his was the quickly-taken tapped penalty that created the first try, for Bowe.

When, with 10 minutes left, O'Gara replaced Sexton to hammer down the remaining coffin nails, the Leinster man was given a resounding farewell by the crowd and acclaimed man of the match. They knew the game was won and the role Sexton had played.

O'Driscoll will take Ireland to the World Cup in New Zealand in September with greater optimism than before.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?