Drop at goal. Grand Slam at stake
Ireland have been here before. Unlike England, Cardiff doesn't intimidate them. Irish teams do extremely well in Cardiff, and when they need a victory, Ireland can get the job done.
It had been 61 years. The longest drought in between grand slams for all of the Six Nations teams. The Ireland team of 1948 lead by the young Jackie Kyle had dined out on that achievement. It was time for the class of 2009 to join their exalted company.
The journey from Enfield the previous December to this match in Cardiff had been a long one. It was nothing compared to that last few minutes in the Millenium Stadium.
You knew from the moment the team surrounded the returning Gordon D'Arcy after his try against France in the first game that this Ireland side had a newfound unity. Rob Kearney's words had worked. Thoughts of a Grand Slam started to grow as O'Driscoll lead them past England. All roads lead to Cardiff.
With the Grand Slam at stake, Ireland started poorly. Behind 6-0 at the break, Ireland scored decisive points just after halftime. The Championship minutes. Just as they had in the competition up to that point. Tommy Bowe sprinted away from Shane Williams and Gavin Henson after O'Gara's pinpoint cross kick. It was fortunate that Lee Byrne had injured himself earlier in the game and Henson was out of position. This was after O'Driscoll put Ireland ahead, and it was now 14-6; the Grand Slam was in reach. Then Wayne Barnes started penalising the Irish.
"Grand Slam At Stake"
Ireland conceded a whopping 15 penalties in that game compared to the six from Wales. On 50 minutes, Jones brought the scores to 14-9. Five minutes later it was 14-12. With six minutes left, Ireland's grand slam dream was under threat, as Jones popped over a drop goal to give Wales the lead.
(The last five minutes with BBC commentary)
From the resulting restart, Stephen Jones kicked out on the full after the ball was passed back inside the 22. Ireland were in position. Wales foiled the Irish maul, before a series of pick and goes meant that David Wallace brought Ireland to within 10 metres slightly left of the posts.
"This must be it" says Ryle Nugent on RTE's coverage.
Drop at goal; Grand Slam at stake.
Can the class of 2015 emulate this team? Can Johnny Sexton emulate Ronan O'Gara's manly drop goal today, or will his kicking come inches short like Stephen Jones' penalty? Will the last few moments of today be as heart stopping as watching that kick fall short?
There's a grand slam at stake.
Photo Credit Stephen McCarthy and Brendan Moran/Sportsfile