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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

O'Connell 'embarrassed' by incredible reception after Wales defeat

The Ireland captain made his final international appearance on home soil.

IF EVER A man deserved a hearty send-off after his final home game for Ireland, then Paul O’Connell is him.

Paul O'Connell with his son Paddy after the game Paul and Paddy get the applause in Dublin. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 35-year-old hopes he has several more enjoyable days in green ahead of him in the coming months, but this was farewell to the Aviva Stadium while wearing the international jersey at least.

O’Connell will retire from Ireland duty post-World Cup and make his move to Toulon, meaning Irish supporters in Dublin today were determined to show their appreciation.

It was very nice,” said O’Connell of the reception he got. “It was embarrassing a little bit when you’ve lost the game and it’s your first hit-out as well. I certainly felt a little bit rusty, it’s very hard to play as well as you’d like in your first start.

“I really appreciated it, even when I came out for the warm-up and when my name was announced. I just really appreciated it and I really appreciated it at the end, but I was a little bit embarrassed.”

On the occasion of his 103rd Ireland cap, O’Connell tasted defeat as the Welsh emerged deserved 16-10 winners, Warren Gatland’s side surviving Sean Cronin’s late dash to the tryline by holding the replacement hooker up.

Paul O'Connell with his son Paddy and wife Emily after the game O'Connell bids farewell to the Aviva Stadium. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The game itself probably won’t feature long in O’Connell’s memory when he retires, but that send-off he received from Ireland fans is likely to linger.

“When you’ve lost the game, to have to walk into the middle of the pitch and give the crowd a wave, that (having lost) is the disappointing part of it” said O’Connell.

But I really appreciate the reception and I love playing here in Dublin. It’s a great city and I think Lansdowne Road is an incredible place, or the Aviva as it’s now called, is an incredible place.

“I’m really disappointed with today, but hopefully in a few months I’ll look back on it as a really nice occasion.”

Originally published 19.10

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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