It's 10 years to the day since Ireland beat England at Croke Park
Ireland won 43-1307:47 Friday 24 February 2017, 7:47 24 Feb 2017
It is 10 years exactly since that memorable day when Ireland welcomed England to Croke Park to participate in a game which symbolised so much more than a rugby match.
The historical significance of England’s presence and the rendition of their national anthem at the citadel of Gaelic sport can never be downplayed.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll tackleds Olly Morgan of England. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
The raw emotion that went into the game carried Ireland to arguably their greatest one-off victory at the time and handed the English a defeat they had never seen before (or since) in the championship.
Despite the England squad receiving a historical briefing from Conor O’Shea before landing in Dublin, you get the sense they weren’t quite expecting such a vociferous output from the crowd on the day.
Shane Horgan congratulates Girvan Dempsey after scoring a try. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Although Jonny Wilkinson opened the scoring with a penalty in the second minute, Ireland dominated almost every aspect of the first half.
Three Ronan O’Gara penalties created the platform as Ireland surged towards Hill 16 before Girvan Dempsey crossed over after the home side sucked the English defence in and three passes later saw the full-back over the whitewash.
O’Gara converted to bring the scores out to 16-3 after half an hour. By this stage it was obvious to anyone watching there was going to be only one winner. The question was - by how much?
Gordon D'Arcy of Ireland goes on a run. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
A few minutes before half-time David Wallace powered over after another period of Irish pressure. O’Gara again converted and the teams headed for the break at 23-3.
Despite O’Gara stretching the lead just after the break with another penalty, England provided a mini-fightback. Debutante David Strettle snuck over in the corner and Wilkinson converted from out wide to bring the visitors out to double digits.
The out-halves traded penalties before the iconic Ireland score of the afternoon. Denis Leamy picked off the back of a five metre scrum and went straight at Andy Farrell. Quick ruck ball allowed Stringer to feed O'Gara who kicked a precise cross-field kick which Shane Horgan pluked out of the air and dotted down as Croke Park went wild. O'Gara again converted.
Shane Horgan of Ireland scores past Josh Lewsey of England. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
In the dying minutes, Isaac Boss intercepted a pass to Wilkinson and ran in unopposed to put a deserved gloss on an unforgettable day in Irish sport.
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