Rugby

The Story Behind How Superfan Jennifer Got To Keep Peter O'Mahony's Six Nations Medal

The Story Behind How Superfan Jennifer Got To Keep Peter O'Mahony's Six Nations Medal

An enduring image of Ireland claiming their third ever Six Nations Grand Slam will be of one Peter O'Mahony's post-match generosity.

Following Saturday's game, as a calm came over Twickenham, O'Mahony draped his winner's medal around the neck of Irish fan Jennifer Malone. It was a remarkable moment of kindness from O'Mahony considering how few players in the history of Irish rugby have won the Grand Slam.

Jennifer is a supporter well-known to the Irish players. She's a regular visitor to Ireland training camps at Carton House - she was there on Thursday as Joe Schmidt's side prepared to face England.

O'Mahony remarked to Jennifer's mother on Sunday that she was getting the medal because "She's one of us".

"We were standing near the tunnel area and there was a load of Irish supporters just up above us," Jennifer's mother, Donna, told Balls.

Stewards were ushering the remaining fans from the stadium when Irish team performance analyst, Vinny Hammond, spied Jennifer.

"Vinny came down and he came over and gave us a hug. I just said to him, 'Are they all gone in?'

Advertisement

"He said he'd go in and get someone to come out. He was gone for ages and the stewards were saying, 'We're going to close the gates, you have to leave'.

"Eventually we gave up and she was crying, more so with the cold at that stage. I was putting her in the wheelchair and I was just about to turn the wheelchair and Peter came running out.

"Vinny told me today that when he went in, he said, 'I need somebody to come out. Jennifer's outside'. Peter said, 'I'll do it'."

O'Mahony arrived over with the Six Nations trophy and his medal. Dan Sheridan, a photographer with Irish sports photography agency, INPHO, just happened to be close by.

Advertisement

To begin with, it was funny because Peter had put it around her neck to have the photo. Then he says, 'Do you want to keep the medal? I'll get it off you when I get home'. I was like, 'Are you sure?' because I was more worried about losing it.

Dan Sheridan didn't realise that Peter was after saying that we'd give it back. Of course, Dan puts it out on Twitter and then it went viral.

I was like, 'Oh my God, Peter is going to think that we think we're keeping it when he didn't say so'.

Somewhat wary that the Munster man might want his winner's medal back sooner rather than later, Donna and Jennifer turned up at the Irish team hotel on Sunday morning to hand it back. Jennifer would leave with the medal still in her possession.

"We went to the team hotel today and I grabbed his hand and I said, 'Here you go Peter, it's safely in your hands now'.

"About an hour-and-a-half later he comes straight over and he grabbed my hand and put it into my hand. He said, 'Keep it'. I said, 'Are you going to get another one?'

"He said, 'Keep it'. I said, 'Are you sure?'. 'Yeah,' he says. 'She's one of us.'"

O'Mahony has a special rapport with Jennifer, even though she's a Leinster supporter. "Peter keeps telling Jennifer that 'red is her colour,'" explains Donna.

Advertisement

Jennifer spent much of today, while she and her family awaited a flight home, in the company of the Irish players.

"She had been in the room with the lads for a while sitting up at the table with them. We were outside because we weren't allowed in," Donna Malone revealed.

She had spotted Jordi Murphy and he said, 'Come here and have a photo'. Then the door closed. I could hear the lads and her laughing.

Then she came out with my phone and the photos and videos on it were hilarious. They just treat her like one of them.

They've gone out of their way to make sure she's happy even at Carton House or at the Aviva. They'd always come over and she could say their names and they're straight over.

Even yesterday, Joe Schmidt came over and took her hand and we wished them good luck before the game.

Before Peter O'Mahony had come to greet Jennifer and family on Saturday at Twickenham, Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong paid them a visit as they celebrated.

Advertisement

"They all know her. The most lovely thing yesterday was when Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong were doing their circuit [lap of honour]. The two of them came walking over and Cian spotted Jennifer.

"I saw Cian turning to Tadhg and saying, 'Jennifer'. Tadhg didn't get what Cian said. I could see him say, 'Jennifer' again.

"Tadhg looked over and the two of them hopped over the barrier and she got the most amazing hug. Nothing is put on, it's all genuine."

Where is the new prized possession going to be kept? Right next to a gift from another Munster man.

"It's actually going right beside Donnacha Ryan's Pro12 runners-up medal that he gave her at the final last year. The two of them will go together."

Peter O'Mahony's medal was not the only piece of memorabilia which Jennifer picked up over the weekend.

"At the Stoop, Gordon D'Arcy came out and handed her the jersey that he wore [in the England vs Ireland Legends game].

"It's gorgeous jersey and it has 'Axel 8' on the front and the number 11 on the back.

"My baggage allowance is getting heavier going home."

See Also: The British Media Reaction To Ireland Winning The Grand Slam

PJ Browne
Article written by

You may also like