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12 Wonderful Images To Remind Us Of Paul O'Connell's Glorious Irish Career

12 Wonderful Images To Remind Us Of Paul O'Connell's Glorious Irish Career
Sinead Farrell
By Sinead Farrell
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It's the end of an era. The writing was on the wall when he didn't reappear for the second half of yesterday's game after limping off with a hamstring injury. And the tragic news has just been confirmed that our captain Paul O'Connell will play no further part in the Rugby World Cup.

The Munster man, who made his international debut in 2002, warned that this tournament would be his last outing for the country. The reality of it is that we will never witness Paul O'Connell fill up that number five jersey again.

Facing the rest of this World Cup without him will be emotional for us all, but before we consider the future, let's take a moment to look back at the astonishing legacy O'Connell has left behind.

Rising high

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The great man typically rising highest to claim possession. Here he is executing a perfect lineout against Canada during the 2015 World Cup, something he did quite regularly in the Ireland jersey.

Resistance was futile


Standing in the way of Paul O'Connell in full flight was a huge mistake that some had to learn the hard way. This was Australia's Rob Simmons and Ben Mowen attempt to haul the Munster man down in 2013.


The offloads


He was a man who played with a lot of grit but Paul O'Connell had a dash of style about him as well. Here he is performing an neat offload against Scotland in the 2011 Six Nations.  Alastair Kellock was a brave man to go for O'Connell's legs.

Crossing the line



And he could chip in with a try or two too. He was a lock by trade with no major vested interests in nailing tries, but throughout his 108 appearances for Ireland, he carried the ball over the line eight times. Here he celebrates one of those with former Ireland team mate Peter Stringer celebrating behind him.

Crunch tackles galore


He went at every opponent with uncompromising fervour. Not even Richie McCaw of the All Blacks could put strike fear O'Connell.


Even in a headlock he looked dangerous



Yesterday's game was borderline barbaric with O'Connell being stretchered off at half-time and Johnny Sexton vomiting on the pitch. But even when Yoann Maesteri had his left arm sharply cupped around O'Connell's neck, the Limerick native still looked like he would break through a lead based wall.

The fear of God factor

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Scotland's Jason White about to be devoured by a merciless looking O'Connell during a Six Nations meeting in 2005 in Murrayfield.

 A player for all seasons


A few miserable drops of rain could never subdue Paul O'Connell's enthusiasm. Here he is evading the fruitless challenge of New Zealand's Byron Kelleher during the Summer Tour of 2006.


Undaunted by injury


If you're coming off the pitch without a scratch, then you're not doing it right. And O'Connel's most recent hamstring tear is not the first time he has been confronted by injury. Here he receives treatment for an eye injury during a game against Italy. Leinster legend Leo Cullen looks on worryingly at his team mate.

In the thick of it



Whether it was rucks or mauls, scrums or line-outs, Paul O'Connell was at the forefront of the Irish attack. Here he doubles up with Devin Toner to hold up the Scottish cause earlier this year.

Celebrating the good times


The crowning achievement of O'Connell's career came in 2009 when they finally won the Grand Slam. Munster's Donncha O'Callaghan, who regularly partnered O'Connell in the second row, holds the Triple Crown nearby as the pair revel in the moment.

And again

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Under the tutelage of Joe Schmidt, Ireland evolved into a formidable side. And between 2014 and 2015, they won successive Six Nations titles, with Paul O'Connell playing an instrumental role. Here he celebrates the 2014 win with Rob Kearney.

In an ideal world, Paul O'Connell would go on to captain Ireland all the way to the Rugby World Cup Final in a few weeks time. But sport is cruel and you don't always get what you deserve in sport.

Thanks for everything Paul.

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