the daddy

O'Connell's greatest days were the ones his son shared the taste of victory

The fresh memories are the sweetest for Ireland’s captain fantastic.

IRELAND CAPTAIN PAUL O’Connell has many fond memories from his time playing for Ireland in Ireland, but some of the most recent days have given him the sweetest of all.

The former Munster stalwart will make his last international appearance on these shores against Wales tomorrow before leading Ireland to the Rugby World Cup and then moving on to a new adventure in Toulon.

The Ireland players in a team huddle Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Speaking after his final Captain’s Run at the Aviva Stadium today, O’Connell briefly allowed himself to take an eye off the threat of Alun Wyn Jones and Wales to hark back to some of the days that made him such a legend of Irish rugby.

There’s plenty of them: the England game in 2007 – but that was in Croke Park – winning the Triple Crown game, the first one against Scotland, was an important day. It seems a long time ago now…

“Big November internationals, when we started regularly competing with and beating southern hemisphere teams were important days.

As the 35-year-old lock checked himself as he reached a joint highlight for the Paul O’Connell the player, the captain and most importantly as a father.

“Particularly this Six Nations where Paddy was able to come into the dressing room after games with me and hang around.

“I remember Claw doing that with Luke when… when I was young, Claw was old. I”d say those two: we won two big games against France and England and Paddy was in the changing room afterwards. They were the days I really enjoyed.”

Paul O'Connell and his son Paddy O'Connell and son head for the changing room after beating France in the Six Nations. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

As you might expect, O’Connell wasn’t about to get misty-eyed about saying goodbye to Lansdowne Road and the Aviva Stadium. He has a job to do. And besides, this is just another leg of his farewell from Irish rugby – the second of three perhaps before he takes his talents to the south of France.

Paul O'Connell with his son Paddy Edinburgh, and O'Connell was a Six Nations champion in waiting. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s all about this game. There seems to be a final everything for me recently: final game in Thomond Park, final game for Munster and I suppose it just drags on a little bit.

“Certainly with Munster in those last final weeks I thought about it a lot, but it hasn’t really bogged me down this week. It’s my first start (of the season), so it’s more about where I’m going to be in terms of my play and fitness. That’s where my mind is at at the moment.

“It’s still been two and a half months since (I started) a game, so I’m eager to get out and see where I am and put in a good performance rather than dragging on a long goodbye.”

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