Ireland’s 113-year wait over as O’Mahony and Marmion make magic | Andy Bull


Here was a delirious and genuinely historic Dublin evening to sweep away a century of hard-luck stories against the All Blacks

In the minutes before kick-off, the All Blacks’ Steve Hansen handed over a wodge of notes to Ireland’s coach, Joe Schmidt. What was it Steve? A card? A letter? A contract? No, Hansen explained later, it was €760. He had needed a few extra tickets for the game and the only way to do it was to ask Schmidt to buy them for him. This game was such a hot ticket that even Hansen had to pull strings to get people in. But then the Irish had been waiting 113 years for this, ever since they first played, and first lost to the All Blacks here in Dublin back in 1905. Ask around Dublin, or any other place Irish fans were watching on Saturday night, and they will tell you the wait was worth it.

There are plenty of good yarns about Ireland’s home matches against the All Blacks in that time. They are all heartbreakers, though, not a happy ending among them. They had played 16 home Tests against New Zealand before this one, lost 15 and drawn one. It all added up to a lot of ifs, buts, glorious stories about players who almost did, teams who couldn’t quite, and wins that nearly were. Like the one draw, in 1973, which was settled in the end by a freak gust of wind that blew Barry McGann’s last-minute conversion just wide of the upright. Or at least, that’s what they’ll tell you.

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Written by Andy Bull at the Aviva Stadium
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