Through a combination of heroic defense and English indiscipline, Ireland achieved the Grand Slam for only the third time in their history with a hard fought 24-15 win at Twickenham. Even as Johnny May crashed over the Irish tryline for a late consolation score, Rory Best and his battle-weary warriors who had been substituted, celebrated on the bench with hardy hugs and slaps on the back. Out on the pitch, as Owen Farrell failed once again with the boot, Irish fist-pumps and roars of victory reverberated around the home of English rugby.
This was a game of crushing tackles and bruising clashes. Every last ounce of blood and sweat was shed as both teams contributed to an enthralling encounter where no one could claim anyone had shirked their responsibilities. Tadhg Furlong was named RBS man-of-the-match but, in truth, it could have been anyone on the Irish team.
Rob Kearney, hewn from the rocks on the Cooley Mountains, was immense in both defense and attack, always willing to to throw his body on the line. Johnny Sexton, blood gushing from his mouth in the first half, refused to come off the pitch before eventually being unable to stem the flow. Indeed it was the English that were unable to stem the flow as their tryline was breached three times in the opening half.
All of the Boys in Green can enjoy the celebrations tonight knowing that years of hard work and a healthy injection of youth into this side has paid dividends and that the future looks extremely bright for Irish Rugby. This emphatic capturing of the Grand Slam was no fluke and all bodes well for the World Cup in 2019.
Remember the date. St Patrick’s Day 2018, the day when Irish eyes were well and truly smiling. Ireland’s Call was answered with guts and glory.