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Letter from Edinburgh: Ireland's travelling support play a blinder

Captain Paul O’Connell said it was ‘incredible’ to win the Six Nations in front of a big Irish crowd.

Murray Kinsella reports from Edinburgh

IT WAS BIZARRE alright, and it would be nice for Ireland to lift their next Six Nations trophy back in Dublin, but Murrayfield yesterday evening was a magical place to be.

There’s no official figure for the attendance as Joe Schmidt’s side actually lifted the silverware following England’s frenetic and thrilling win over France, but 10,000 was the agreed-upon rough figure.

Ireland supporters celebrate Ireland's supporters go wild as Paul O'Connell lifts the Six Nations trophy. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

That faithful army of Irish supporters had stayed on in the Edinburgh stadium long after Ireland had put the finishing touches to their 40-10 hammering of Scotland to live every moment as the English came up short in the final fixture of a surreal day.

The sound of ‘Allez les Bleus’ bellowing and echoing around the ground from five o’clock onwards was strange, as was the sight of Ireland returning to the Murrayfield turf in their suits. Odd, but wonderful for those who had invested in the trip to Scotland.

“It’s the most strangest, bizarre way to win a trophy,” agreed captain Paul O’Connell after the last of the champagne had been sprayed by his teammates.

“You don’t win many of them, but when you do in a situation like that and with a crowd like that, it was incredible.”

The weirdest moment of them all was Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’ pumping out over the tannoy as Ireland saluted their typically brilliant travelling support, trophy in hand and a night of well-deserved excess stretching in front of them.

The Scottish Rugby Union and Murrayfield deserve credit for hosting the celebrations in such hospitable fashion, and this was truly a fitting conclusion to a day of rugby that was barely believable at times.

It started with a degree of despair as Wales racked up an impressive scoreline against a an Italian defence that was arguably not worthy of that tag, but O’Connell’s early try in Murrayfield soothed the nerves and sent Schmidt’s men charging into a performance of sheer quality when they needed it most.

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To then watch so powerlessly as England and France engaged in one of the truly great Six Nations encounters was sheer agony for Schmidt and his players, as well as the Irish fans, their act in the on-pitch drama completed.

Over in Edinburgh airport, those not lucky enough to be staying the night were chewing fingernails too, having spent their energy willing and cheering Ireland over the line four times in Murrayfield.

Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, Felix Jones, Simon Zebo and Conor Murray celebrate with the trophy Ireland's players celebrated in front of around 10,000 supporters. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

If this trip to Edinburgh was a sign of things to come in the World Cup, then September can’t roll around quickly enough.

Schmidt will need to manage the media expectations and pressure in the months preceding the global tournament, but he can rest assured that a green army will be following Ireland every step of the way as they aim to make more history.

Edinburgh was a benchmark attacking performance for Ireland under Schmidt, but it was also the latest barometer of quality for the travelling support.

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Murray Kinsella

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