The Six Nations were not successful for Ireland. Ross Cannon recounts Ireland’s matches…
Saturday 2 February, 1.30pm: People all over the country sat down to watch the beginning of another Six Nations campaign and it began with a trip to the Millennium Stadium; a stadium of which Irish people have such fond memories; a stadium where we watched another stunning game of rugby.
Zebo’s flick had people bending over to pick their jaws up of the floor; Brian O’Driscoll marked his return with a magical pass and a second half try, a Welsh fight-back in the second half allowed us to gorge on our finger nails but also marvel at the defensive effort of which this Irish team was capable… surely it was our year again, we had just defeated the current champions, it was our time.
Sunday, February 10, 3.00pm: Those white-shirted Saxon men were in town. The rain fell and it fell and it fell. The ball fell and it fell and it fell through the fingers of our Irish player’s hands.
Dismal weather had descended on Dublin and the nation’s hopes of a Grand Slam. Cian Healy stamped on an English man in frustration; Johnny Sexton exited the game with a hamstring problem.
A man that had pulled us from the ashes so many times came on to replace Sexton but Ronan O’Gara looked a shadow of himself and our race was run.
The English had played the conditions and exhibited a control on the game our fingers just couldn’t muster. The dream was over but we still had more games to come and we had to show this green jersey some justice.
Sunday, February 24, 2.00pm: Away we went to Scotland; a nation where passion and pride runs deep. A young inexperienced Ulster man stood at out half; Paddy Jackson started the game in the absence of Sexton and in preference to O’Gara.
We had hope in our hearts which soon turned to heartache with this young Ulster man at the helm of this sinking ship. A game that had started so brightly ended in the most bitterest of defeats. We had lost to Scotland, a team that usually battles for the wooden spoon.
Saturday, March 9, 5.00pm: A massively disjointed French team came to Dublin; this was our chance to give ourselves a much needed confidence boost and that’s what we did… for 40 minutes.
If ever the clichéd term ‘a game of two halves’ could be used it would be for this game. As is now becoming the trend, the men in green started fantastically.
Our line-out never faltered and our opening try came from Jamie Heaslip after the pack had punched a hole through the French defence.
Paddy and Freddie traded penalties and this was our game, we were going to get one over the French, finally. But no, we lost our way again.
Louis Picamoles picked a hole through the napping Irish line, the try was converted and it was all level and stayed level. For the second year in a row we had drawn with the French.