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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Tommy Bowe: 'I was as close to crying as I think any of us have ever been'

The Irish wing reflects on Sunday’s emotional win in Cardiff.

Tommy Bowe
Tommy Bowe
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

BLOOD, SWEAT AND tears. Sunday’s seismic encounter at the Millennium Stadium had it all.

Ireland delivered another Joe Schmidt masterclass in possession and pressure as the men in green squeezed the life out of a stunned French outfit in Cardiff.

After a ferocious opening half-hour of action, Ireland held a slender 9-6 lead with a trademark Schmidt power-play sending Tommy Bowe through a yawning gap in the French midfield.

The Ulster winger’s final pass looked to have put Keith Earls in for the first try of the match, but the Munster centre fumbled the ball with the line at his mercy.

At the time, it felt like a huge blow for Ireland. Ultimately, that botched chance made no difference as Schmidt’s troops battered the French into submission in the second-half.

“He was chatting to me after giving out about it!” said Bowe on Earls’ dropped pass. “I think the fact we did have chances to score more tries and didn’t take them is a huge positive for us.

“It would have been great to go in with that try at half-time but to see that we can open up teams of the quality of France was pleasing.”

Philippe Saint-Andre’s shell-shocked side simply had no answer to Ireland’s ferocity after the break, with Robbie Henshaw, Iain Henderson and Rory Best leading the charge. Schmidt secured his third consecutive victory over Saint-Andre as Ireland out-thought and out-fought their beleaguered opponents.

“Parts of it worked,” said Bowe on Ireland’s game-plan. “A lot of it was about our intensity; making our tackles and trying to bring a physicality to the French that they couldn’t have expected. We wanted to take it to them and it was a bruising affair out there. But we’re delighted.”

Tommy Bowe celebrates winning Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The atmosphere in the stadium before, during and after the 24-9 victory was something to behold. Bowe has seen it all at this stage, but he admitted that keeping his emotions in check was a struggle prior to kick-off.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the Monaghan man added. “The crowds of people in such good form, then stepping out on to the pitch for the anthems — I was as close to crying as I think any of us have ever been.

“Just to see the passion out there and the passion we put into it, we wanted to go out there and show that. We wanted to show the heart we have as a team, and I think that’s something we showed in abundance.”

They certainly did.

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