Scenes of euphoria were seen all across the country last night as Ireland won their bid for Grand Slam glory in Cardiff.
This season's rugby Six Nations Championship came to an intense conclusion after Ireland claimed the victory by two points. Punters squeezed into venues to watch the clash and popular rugby spot Kiely's in Donnybrook proved no exception, packed to capacity.
The 61- year wait for this much-hyped moment was the topic of most pre-match conversation. Ireland has three times before seen their Grand Slam aspirations wiped away in the final game of a championship by Wales in 1926, 1951 and 1969.
There was a palpable sense of Irish pride, with the majority sporting Irish jerseys and roaring out the national anthem. The first scuffle of the match and a warning for Donncha O'Callaghan saw the entirety of the Irish throng on their feet, fists raised and voices hoarse – the first of many instants of outrage.
This turned to ecstasy however as the Irish continuously blocked the advances of the Welsh opposition. The ferocity of the tackles on both sides however was only rivaled by the ferocity of those whose hearts were set on Irish victory.
Thirty-two minutes into play and with Wales breaking the nil-all score to 3-0, a more anxious and uneasy atmosphere was evident. By half-time a new strain was beginning to show. "My nerves are gone," said onlooker David Batt before the second half. "O'Driscoll is, of course, always amazing. Ireland has been very strong, and now they need to capitalise on this strength. We're all very hopeful."
All hell broke loose in the second half, as O'Driscoll was hailed a hero and a legend by the masses, leading the country ahead once again.
The tension was too much for some who chose not to watch the last 10 minutes and rather sat head in hands listening to the reactions of those around them. As the last five minutes drew in, the raw pressure reached its peak as Wales outran Ireland bringing their score one point ahead. This sobriety lasted all of two minutes as Ireland breathlessly raced to 17 points and brought every Irish man and woman off their seats with renewed fervor. As all hopes and wishes came down to the final kick the only moment of silence settled. Nails were bitten and foreheads were burrowed as every Irish breath was held.
And it was euphoria for Ireland. There were tears, laughter, and dancing as for the first time in over six decades Ireland snatched the victory so bitterly fought for.
Darren Grogan, from Swords, said: "This is such an unbelievable moment for Ireland. Not just for the republic but for Northern Ireland and every Irish person in the world. The difference between the Irish team and every other team is our composure, and we saw that today. We've been heartbroken so many times, and now at last, victory."