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Saturday 19 August 2017

Paul O'Connell could have played his last Six Nations

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell (left), and Sean O'Brian with the six nations trophy as Ireland win the Six Nation at Murrayfield Stadium at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell (left), and Sean O'Brian with the six nations trophy as Ireland win the Six Nation at Murrayfield Stadium at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire
Ireland celebrate as Ireland win the Six Nations at Murrayfield Stadium at the end of the 2015 RBS Six Nations match at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 21, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Scotland. Photo credit should read: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell now knows how Brian O'Driscoll felt last year.

The microphone was put before him one more time and one more time the question came.

Will this be your last Six Nations? "I don't want it to be. But, I'm getting old," he shrugged.

The presence of his son Paddy at his side through The

Championship is the greatest personal sign O'Connell will not be back next year to go after what would be an unprecedented third successive title for Ireland.

"He (Paddy) has been with me in the changing room after the last few games. When I look back they'll probably be the best memories I'll have," he said.

While the Limerick man is playing to a level above mere mortals, there must be the thought in the back of his mind that he would like to go out a champion.

"In some ways, it actually feels better than last year," he said.

You can see where he is coming from. Ireland would have had the time to digest their 40-10 defeat of Scotland, recover some energy and become immersed in a thrill-a-minute match at Twickenham.

"When you're sitting there at the table with a few of the lads with a beer in front of you watching on the TV, you're like a supporter.

"It was just an incredible day. It was a lot better craic than last year anyway," he said.

"It was just a crazy day."

It was heart-warming for the Ireland players to emerge from the belly of Murrayfield to a rousing reception from thousands of supporters, kindly allowed to stay on and view the England match on the large screen.

Replica

It made all the difference to O'Connell as he stepped up to receive one of three replica Six Nations trophies that were available in Rome, Edinburgh and London.

"It would have been very strange to come out to an empty stadium and lift the trophy," he said.

"But, the crowd have just been amazing. We saw it on the way to the Captain's Run. We saw it on the way to the ground at Murrayfield.

"They've gone into their pockets and they've travelled over and gave us great support."

It could turn out to be the day when O'Connell wears the green jersey for the last time in the Six Nations.

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