Paul O’Connell on Cyril Byrne’s iconic Croke Park photo

As The Irish Times photographer retires, O’Connell recalls his memories of this image

Paul O Connell wins the line out for Ireland  at Croke Park  as Ireland lead England on Saturday, February 24th, 2007. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Paul O Connell wins the line out for Ireland at Croke Park as Ireland lead England on Saturday, February 24th, 2007. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

It’s amazing what I remember about that moment. The call for that line out was ‘F’. ‘F’ came from the word FAST. ‘F’ being for me moving forward in the line out (‘A’ being a jump on the spot, ‘S’ being a lob and ‘T’ being a trick or special movement).

It is a slight overthrow. I shouldn’t have to stretch that much to win the ball. It was a very good call and one I favoured in pressure positions as I had John Hayes as my back lifter and Donncha O’Callaghan as my front lifter.

Both were 6’4”. Donncha has continually lied about his height throughout his career and appears on many programs as either 6’5” or 6’6”. Not only has he condescendingly brandished a lavish head of hair in front me and John Hayes throughout our latter years when we were follicallly challenged, he has used it (his hair) to push his credentials as a second rower - 6’4” being too small in the modern game.

As I said both were 6’4”, strong and excellent lifters. Donncha is slightly on his tippy toes and I have left John’s hands as he has thrown me to get the maximum height. Phil Vickery on the England side has not matched John for pace and therefore misses the lift on Martin Corry in opposition.

The photo is taken at absolute perfect height. I love the score line in the background and more importantly the time with it. There is more to come!

The photo is in my parents' house in the living room beside my communion photo. The guy who took my communion photo was not as good a photographer. . .

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