Player-by-player analysis


15. Girvan Dempsey: Mixed the very good with the cautious. His covering was excellent, but for a player only recently recovered from injury he will benefit from this match.

14. Kevin Maggs: Generally operated on the blindside wing when Ireland were in possession. Defensively excellent, he took the ball into contact and protected it very well in the tackle.

13. Brian O'Driscoll: A wonderful display. Three tries merely embellished what was in every respect a top quality performance. Defensively aggressive and assured, he made several crucial wrap around tackles which stunted French moves. Arguably the most complete performance of his career from a player of outstanding ability. "I've been involved in a World Cup winning side (under-19) so all the best moments seem to come in France and this is right up there."

12. Rob Henderson: Made one or two typically strong breaks, battering a hole through the French rearguard. Put in some very big tackles and demonstrated a great awareness and vision with and without possession.

11. Denis Hickie: Produced a marvellous try-saving tackle on Marc dal Maso under the shadow of his own posts. His second-half performance was arguably his finest 40 minutes in an Ireland jersey.

10. Ronan O'Gara: A day of contrasts for the young Con outhalf. Took the ball to the gainline very well, making a couple of half breaks. His distribution was excellent but he will be annoyed that his kicking lacked its normal assurance.

9. Peter Stringer: His passing was superb, generally getting his outhalves to run onto the ball. Might have made the odd break himself to occupy the French backrow.

1. Peter Clohessy: Arguably his finest performance in an Ireland jersey. Hugely effective ball carrier, he never failed to breach the gainline and the quality of his presentation was flawless.

2. Keith Wood: Overthrew a couple of lineout balls early on but gradually normal service was resumed. This was a lower profile display by the Irish captain but that shouldn't camouflage his work-rate and tackle count.

3. John Hayes: After a slow start, gradually the Irish scrum improved and Hayes played his part. "I've never experienced anything like it. Califano is very strong. It's just one test after another."

4. Mick Galwey: Settling presence and once again verbally active in maintaining a focus and direction. Couple of big tackles, most of his work was unseen.

5. Malcolm O'Kelly: A typically unglamorous performance, save for his exceptional ability to contest the re-starts and his obvious lineout ability.

6. Simon Easterby: One of Ireland's outstanding performers on the day. His tackling was largely unerring as was his work at the breakdown where he ensured that Irish ball was suitably protected.

7. Kieron Dawson: Made a million tackles, secured possession and for 55 minutes showed no real signs of the bruised hip that made him doubtful. "It doesn't get any better than this. The second tackle I made left me feeling dizzy for a while and the wear and tear eventually forced me to come off."

8. Anthony Foley: Excellent ball carrying display, swept up brilliantly and provided a willing and effective ball carrier. A couple of great surges.

Substitutes - Paddy Johns: Will be horrified by the silly penalty he gave away in front of the Irish posts, compounded by the ignominy of being sin binned. Partially redeemed himself with great support of Hickie's run which set up O'Driscoll's third try.

Andy Ward: Physically up for the battle when introduced, he produced a couple of his trademark bear hug tackles.

David Humphreys: Once again a superb performance. Kicked prodigiously and also moved the ball astutely. And he got that penalty, the one he deserved after last season's anguish at Lansdowne Road. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about last year as I prepared to take the kick, and yes, I did offer a silent prayer."