Paul O Connell

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Ireland players celebrate the Grand Slam.  It’s important after scaling the mountain top to relax your mind for the way back down because there’s always another peak on the horizon. Photograph:  Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

I remember waking up the morning after the 2009 Grand Slam with an unexpected feeling in my gut. We did it. What’s next? That Sunday was a blur. Co(...)

Grand slam: Joe Schmidt gives Ireland a prematch talk at Twickenham. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty

When he was writing about his rugby career in The Battle, his autobiography, from 2016, the former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell reflected on how he (...)

Kevin Downes in action for Na Piarsaigh in the All-Ireland semi-final win over Slaughteneil.  “I’d watch club finals on St Patrick’s Day and never once even thought about being there.”  Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

“No interest whatsoever,” says Kevin Downes about rugby, realising that might not be the popular answer. At least not depending on your definition of(...)

The Ireland team celebrate winning the Grand Slam at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Consulting, farming, coaching and media darlings aplenty, here are the 2009 Grand Slammers revisited. The campaign got off to a stunning start with J(...)

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring one of his two tries against Scotland. This Irish team has already scored five more tries than the 2009 Grand Slam winners.    Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Boring, boring Ireland? Okay, so Matt Williams only used the adjective once, not twice as the chant goes. But even so the description, coming in the (...)

Rob Kearney is tackled by  Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn: The fullback has played a key role in four championship wins plus a Grand Slam. Photograph:  Tom Honan.

Take a bow Rob Kearney, and Rory Best. As the only survivors from the 2009 Grand Slam squad, these two have also been ever-presents in all three ensu(...)

Devin Toner: “It’s brilliant obviously when you have the confidence of the coaches, it’s really good for your own self-confidence.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Devin Toner will never be taken by his durable achievements.   “I have, to quote Liam Neeson, ‘a certain set of skills’ that I know do well for (...)

 James Ryan takes on the Wales defence in the Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Tom Honan

James Ryan – aka ‘The Big Cheese’ – is not Paul O’Connell and never will be but there are glaring similarities. Perhaps it stems from that heaviest-b(...)

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton, Jamie Heaslip and Keith Earls with Dan Biggar and Scott Williams of Wales in the Six Nations championship round 4 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff in  March 2017. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Jonathan Davies: “I think it’s just ferocious, Paulie. You can hear the hits.” Paul O’Connell: “Absolutely, you can hear ’em, ya.” Davies: “The gasp(...)

Ireland players at the captain’s run in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Once more 2.15pm on a Saturday at Lansdowne Road is Six Nations time. But this will be different from a fortnight ago. The forecast is set fair and th(...)

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