In a sports-mad nation, Ireland’s clean sweep in the Autumn series against two of the giants of Southern Hemisphere rugby, Australia and South Africa, plus the bruising encounter with Georgia, represents the crowning glory of a year when the team in green also emerged as champions of the Northern Hemisphere.
It has given the whole island, north and south, a welcome Christmas cracker to savour until the 2015 championship gets under way. The only setback in a never-to-be-forgotten weekend was that Ireland’s coach Joe Schmidt had to be taken to hospital suffering from appendicitis, having been in pain all day. On behalf of the many fans of a coach who has transformed the Irish game, imbuing self-belief in his team, we wish him a full recovery to the best of health.
The only thing likely to make this scenario even sweeter would be for Ireland to win the Grand Slam, beat the All Blacks, and bring home the World Cup. An elusive vision perhaps but, following the manner of their thrilling defeat of Australia, no longer an impossible dream.
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