We remember the Grand Slam-winning Irish rugby team of 2009.
What a difference a couple of years can make. 2009 was one of the most historic years in Irish rugby history. Declan Kidney’s exploits for Munster were rewarded with his appointment as Ireland rugby coach. Confidence was low following just two wins in the 2008 tournament. However, it was clear that Ireland had talent in abundance, albeit talent that needed nurturing.
Kidney’s appointment was met with fanfare throughout the country, with many hoping the Corkman would lead Ireland to the Promised Land. Kidney did not disappoint.
An opening 30-21 win over France in Croke Park set the tone for what would go down as the most memorable years in Irish sporting history.
Kidney’s men travelled to Rome to face a resilient Italian side, but brushed them aside with ease. The Italians were often seen as sticky opponents,but Ireland eased through the game thanks to five tries, including a second in as many games for the talismanic Brian O’ Driscoll. Belief continued to grow in the Irish camp, and a crunch clash at Croker against the old enemy awaited Ireland’s heroes.
In a tightly-contested affair, the Irish team scraped a victory against England by the minimum, 14-13. No prizes for guessing who scored the Irish try, with the Leinster star putting in another virtuoso performance.
Buoyed by an exuberant Irish crowd, Ireland left Croker with a real belief that a Grand Slam was within reach.
Next up was a trip to Murrayfield against the Scots. Scotland were full of confidence, having just beaten Italy 26-6 and put it up to Declan Kidney’s men. However, a try from Jamie Heaslip and an exhibition in kicking from Ronan O’ Gara gave Ireland a 22-15 win.
The stage was set for a grand finale in Cardiff against the reigning Grand Slam and Triple Crown Champions, Wales.
That memorable day in the Millennium Stadium will forever be remembered as the day the world stood up and took notice of a new leader in world rugby.
Sport Is Everything. Richard Barrett.
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