Paul O’Connell: ‘It's great to be in the thick of the competition’

Paul O’Connell: ‘It's great to be in the thick of the competition’

By Grainne McGuinness and Shaun Cronin

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell said the squad were overjoyed to get their World Cup campaign underway and paid tribute to the fans who made the trip to Cardiff to support them yesterday.

The competition being played so close to home meant the squad stayed at home in training camp for longer and O’Connell said the players had been itching to get over and feel part of the build-up.

“I am not sure but I think we were one of the last teams over here,” he said after their comprehensive win against Canada. “In the southern hemisphere, you go over a bit earlier and enjoy the buzz a bit more.

“We came here a bit later so it was great to finally be in it."

He was asked about the atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where a sea of green was there in support of the team.

“It was brilliant,” he answered. "The coach journey into the stadium was fantastic with all the Irish supporters in the streets and the players loved the atmosphere."

“It's great to be in the thick of the competition now. We are looking forward to moving on to St George's (Ireland's next base)."

O’Connell also said other World Cup matches wouldn’t distract the Irish players from the biggest sporting event taking place today.

“The All-Ireland final tomorrow is probably more on their minds and they will sit down as a group and watch that.”

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