Shane Horgan was the last-gasp hero as his 78th-minute try steered Ireland to a 28-24 win over England at Twickenham - and their second Triple Crown in three seasons.
RBS 6 NATIONS: Saturday, March 18
ENGLAND 24 IRELAND 28, Twickenham (Att: 70,000)
Scorers: England: Tries: Jamie Noon, Steve Borthwick; Con: Andy Goode; Pens: Goode 4
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Shane Horgan 2, Denis Leamy; Cons: Ronan O'Gara 2; Pens: O'Gara 3
It was Ireland's third consecutive win over the world champions and capped off a desperately disappointing RBS 6 Nations Championship for Andy Robinson's men. For Irish supremo Eddie O'Sullivan, it was an excellent end to a topsy-turvy campaign that almost floundered on a poor first half performance in Paris last month.
The feel good factor is certainly back in Irish rugby after Horgan's late try - his second of a breathless display. There were heroes aplenty - captain Brian O'Driscoll showed his never-say-die spirit, lock and pack leader Paul O'Connell was simply immense and number eight Denis Leamy fronted up as only he can.
After away defeats to Scotland and France, it was time for the Twickenham faithful to witness just how far England have fallen since their memorable World Cup final night in Sydney in November 2003.
Andy Goode looked to have secured England an unlikely win when he struck a magnificent touchline penalty in the 74th-minute to put the hosts three points ahead. But Horgan's late try, scored in the right corner despite the best efforts of Lewis Moody and awarded after a few moments viewing by television match official Huw Watkins (Wales), gave Ireland a win they fully deserved.
Ronan O'Gara grabbed a personal haul of 13 points - pushing him through the 600-point barrier in Test rugby - as the masses of Irish supporters left Twickenham delighted on St Patrick's weekend.
In stark contrast to last weekend in Paris, England started the game in superb style with Newcastle centre Jamie Noon flying over for a try in the second minute. However, Ireland responded with a try from Horgan, although the winger appeared to have stepped into touch as he kicked ahead to score.
Steve Borthwick went over for the home side in the second half but Ireland hit straight back with a try for Leamy after a horrible mix-up at an England line-out.
Leamy's try, converted by O'Gara, put the visitors three points ahead but a penalty from Goode after 68 minutes levelled the scores at 21-21. And despite Goode kicking successfully again soon afterwards, Horgan struck decisively to break English hearts and leave O'Driscoll and company to celebrate Ireland's eighth Triple Crown.
No Championship, but "a stepping stone" to greater things, in the words of O'Driscoll. Roll on the summer tour Down Under!
TIME LINE: 2 minutes - England try: Jamie Noon - 5-0; conversion: missed by Andy Goode - 5-0; 7 mins - Ireland try: Shane Horgan - 5-5; conversion: missed by Ronan O'Gara - 5-5; 14 mins - Ireland penalty: Ronan O'Gara - 5-8; 33 mins - England yellow card: Simon Shaw - Ireland penalty: Ronan O'Gara - 5-11; 34 mins - England penalty: Andy Goode - 8-11; Half-time - England 8 Ireland 11; 43 mins - Ireland penalty: Ronan O'Gara - 8-14; 44 mins - England penalty; Andy Goode - 11-14; 52 mins - England try: Steve Borthwick - 16-14; conversion: Andy Goode - 18-14; 59 mins - Ireland try: Denis Leamy - 18-19; conversion: Ronan O'Gara - 18-21; 69 mins - Ireland yellow card - Simon Easterby - England penalty: Andy Goode - 21-21; 75 mins - England penalty; Andy Goode - 24-21; 78 mins - Ireland try: Shane Horgan - 24-26; conversion: Ronan O'Gara - 24-28; Full-time - England 24 Ireland 28
ENGLAND: Tom Voyce; Mark Cueto, Jamie Noon, Stuart Abbott, Ben Cohen; Andy Goode, Harry Ellis; Andy Sheridan, Lee Mears, Julian White, Steve Borthwick, Simon Shaw, Joe Worsley, Lewis Moody, Martin Corry (capt).
Replacements used: Mike Tindall for Noon (half-time), Steve Thompson for Mears, Danny Grewcock for Shaw (both 63 mins), Matt Dawson for Ellis (67), Perry Freshwater for Sheridan (70). Not used: Lawrence Dallaglio, David Walder.
IRELAND: Geordan Murphy; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Malcolm O'Kelly, Paul O'Connell, Simon Easterby, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.
Replacements used: Donncha O'Callaghan for O'Kelly (54 mins), Girvan Dempsey for Trimle (66), Johnny O'Connor for Leamy (71). Not used: Rory Best, Simon Best, Eoin Reddan, David Humphreys.
Referee: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)