O’Driscoll stylishly sidesteps questions about ‘that’ decision

Supporters greet Irish Lions on return from Australia

Jamie Heaslip and Simon Zebo arrive back in Dublin Airport this morning. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Jamie Heaslip and Simon Zebo arrive back in Dublin Airport this morning. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 15:59

After hard fought victory in Australia, the final test for the Irish members of the Lions squad was getting through a scrum of photographers and reporters at Dublin airport this morning.

Brian O’Driscoll, with characteristic style, managed to sidestep the throng, shaking hands with supporters while casually deflecting questions about that decision.

The former Irish captain, who was dropped from the Lions squad ahead of the series decider by coach Warren Gatland, said he was “ready to be able to switch off completely”, adding that he now “just wanted to be able to enjoy the next four weeks”.

Crowds of supporters waved green flags and cheered Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Jonathan Sexton, Rob Kearney, Simon Zebo and O’Driscoll as they arrived in terminal two of Dublin airport.

Sisters Anna and Grace O’Neill, from Meath, had been waiting for an hour and a half before the plane even landed. They pair of them clutched rugby balls and pens, hopeful of getting some autographs.

Mary McLoughlin said she and her sons, James and Eoin, had come out to show their support because the Lions “have done so well--we were thrilled”. She added that she was there to support O’Driscoll in particular because she was “so proud” of how he dealt with everything.

When the players arrived they were quickly surrounded. Young fans wearing Lions jerseys and wide grins beamed as they had their pictures taken with their heroes.

“It’s pretty special,” Jonathan Sexton said on his successful return home. Looking ahead to the next tour in New Zealand in four years’ time, the flyhalf said the current crop of players was “a pretty young squad… hopefully a lot of the same players will be there if they can keep their form”.

While it was almost all smiles and congratulations in the arrivals hall, one young supporter wasn’t overly impressed. It was all a bit much for baby Tadhg Pitts, who was thrust into Sexton’s arms and quickly surrounded by photographrers. “He wouldn’t smile,” his mother Sabrina sighed afterwards. “The one time the child wouldn’t smile.”

The other Irish Lions; Paul O’Connell, Conor Murray, Tommy Bowe, Tom Court and Rory Best are travelling on other flights.