By Cillian O Conchuir
Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien insists there was never a doubt that Ireland would do what was needed to edge Wales in the 6 Nations Championship race. Fifteen months of rehab paid off as the Leinster back row helped Ireland to victory a 10-40 victory.
But as the Welsh result in Rome filtered through to the players, Ireland needed to win by 21 points to leapfrog Warren Gatland's side at the top of the Championship. Ireland were level on points scoring difference with Wales when Johnny Sexton missed two penalties, but the belief never wavered.
"There was no doubt. We had a good week. The training, the coaches looked after us really well. We were fresh. There was a lot of sore bodies after last week. It was probably the toughest test match I was involved in. We done really well in that aspect of things. Training was sharp on Thursday, we had a bit of fun here yesterday and we were ready to rock."
"(The result in Rome) didn't change our approach and our game plan was exactly the same. We knew if we stuck to it, done our drills properly, we knew we would be in a good place.
Ireland gave Wales a 12-0 head start inside 13 minutes last week and it was a case of a harsh lesson learned coming into this week. A fourth minute converted Paul O'Connell try and a Sexton penalty saw Ireland lead 10-0 on nine minutes and Scotland were playing catch up.
"Looking back now it might not have been the worst thing in the world. The way we know, we can learn and move forward. That was the biggest thing to come out of last week, that we didn't do our jobs correctly and we didn't do what we did during the week. If we approach the game like we did today, for instance, make sure everyone is going 100 miles an hour, we know we are never too far away."
O'Brien made 76 metres on 13 carries but paid tribute to Provincial teammate Luke Fitzgerald who was immense in defense in his first 6 Nations start in four years. When the final whistle went O'Brien sought him out. Having been 24th man for the last three games, Fitzgerald was on the fringes before being recalled to the starting lineup for the first time since being a replacement against New Zealand in 2013.
"He was one of the first players I went over to at the end of the game just to say everything he done, he done the basics really well. He defended... Lukey is an unbelievable defender. He carried really well and done everything he had to do.
"For a fella who hadn't played in the last few weeks either and hasn't been at this level for a while. It was very pleasing to have him back in the squad. He is a great communicator as well. That is one of his big strengths and helped everyone else around him."
Breakingnews.ie sports reporter Shaun Cronin talk about today’s epic win in Scotland with Irish Examiner Simon Lewis.