Will we have BOD on our side for much longer?
Celebrating after his famous hat-trick of tries helped to achieve a rare Ireland win in Paris, in March 2000.
Skinning Lisandro Arbizu of Argentina on his home debut in August 1998.
This afternoon could witness the home farewell of Ireland’s greatest ever player
In the CD shoe shop in Stillorgan, one of the staff who would normally baulk at spending €200 for a brace of tickets to a rugby match has long decided to make an exception. Although he fervently hopes it is not so, he is going to bring his son on the premise this might be Brian O’Driscoll’s last game for Ireland on home soil and well, we’ll never see his like again.
Similarly, one ex-Junior player turned “professional supporter” who regrets never having met the man, is intent on marking the occasion by not only attending – again just in case it is a home farewell – and keeping his ticket as a keepsake, but will make a donation to the IRFU Charitable Trust in O’Driscoll’s name.
The game has been a sell-out since early January and judging by this and other anecdotal evidence of a late surge in interest for tickets, the vast majority of those filling the Aviva to capacity today – including the French – are mindful of this huge sub-plot to this evening’s encounter.
In all of this, the fervent hope is O’Driscoll will carry on playing next season. But it could be the anti-climactic nature of this season’s campaign – and the knowledge this year’s bi-annual itinerary with England and France coming to Dublin affords Ireland’s it’s best tilt at glory – will sway him toward retirement.
There is also the not so small matter of changed priorities, namely Amy giving birth to Sadie on the morning of that England game. He spoke of this two days after the Scotland defeat, when also going some way to dispelling the notion he might like to see out his career by playing solely for Leinster by admitting he would find not being part of the Irish set-up difficult. Alas, it sounded like he was moving more toward the idea of retirement.
Ronan O’Gara’s subsequent demotion and then omission, given O’Driscoll is a year younger, might also influence his decision. But, although the desire to go out on one’s own terms while not leaving anything behind has been the hardest call of all even for the great ones, that is much less likely to happen to O’Driscoll.
He was excellent against Wales, while no one can imagine his mental state against England when even pitching up for battle was an achievement, before mixed judgments on his performances against Scotland.
TV viewers would have had the soundbite “worst performance in 10 years” ringing in their ears, but his breakdown work and defending were as good as ever.
There were also some lovely touches on the ball; he ran some good decoys and was twice in support of Keith Earls after line breaks by Marshall and Earls. Had the winger given either of those two try-scoring passes O’Driscoll’s display would have been rightly hailed as up to his normal high standards. Had Earls given both, not alone would Ireland have won by a street, O’Driscoll would have had another man-of-the-match gong.