4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
The St Mary's man - who trails captain and good friend Brian O'Driscoll by a single try in the all-time Irish try scorers' race, on 25 - would have hit the half-century appearance mark but for a series of hampering injuries.
The most recent - a ruptured Achilles in the 2003 World Cup pool loss to Australia - saw him out of the international reckoning for a year.
A broken jaw in 1998 also left him sidelined for eighteen months, but he marked his 2004 return to action with stirring displays in the autumn Test victories over South Africa and Argentina.
The 21-19 November win over the Pumas saw him head the carry stats (10), and Hickie has since proved his undoubted consistency at provincial level, with three Heineken Cup tries - and five touch downs in eight Celtic League outings.
Hickie - once more a vital cog in the Irish set-up - did his Lions chances the power of good with two tries against Italy and Scotland last month, but knows Ireland cannot afford to rest on their laurels in the Championship race.
"There was a bit of high in the aftermath of the England game - people got a bit carried away by thinking beyond the next match," conceded the Dubliner this week.
"But that was never the case within the team itself. There is the realisation that it is France we are playing next and Irish rugby is not in the position where it can afford to think of them as anything other than very tough opposition."
Having scored on his debut as a 20-year-old against Wales, it would be fitting if the winger's involvement on Saturday week in Cardiff is a pivotal one in what could prove to be a very special year for Irish rugby.
As a consumate professional, Hickie knows the Irish - on a seven-game winning streak in the Six Nations - cannot afford to look beyond les Bleus tomorrow.
Although shorn of injured Leinster colleagues in the backline, Hickie insisted: "There is no concern with Kevin (Maggs) coming into the side. He has got more experience than a lot of the guys already there. He has been ticking away with Ulster while he showed what he can do in the game against Scotland.
"His presence is not going to change things that much and while it is a blow that Gordon and Shane are not going to play - it's great to have a guy of that experience coming in. It says a lot for our strength in depth."
Denis Anthony Hickie Date of Birth: 13/09/1976; Place of Birth: Dublin Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 14 stone 6 lbs Position: Winger Club/Province: St Mary's College/Leinster Ireland Caps: 49; Ireland Points: 125 (25 tries)
Scoring Record: 1997: 1 try v Wales, 1 try v Scotland; 1998: 1 try v France, 2 tries v England; 2000: 3 tries v Japan, 1 try v South Africa; 2001: 1 try v Wales, 1 try v New Zealand; 2002: 1 try v Wales, 1 try v Italy, 1 try v Georgia; 2003: 1 try v Scotland, 4 tries v Italy, 1 try v Scotland, 2 tries v Romania, 1 try v Namibia; 2005: 1 try v Italy, 1 try v Scotland
FOR THE RECORD:
Denis Hickie is one of five players in the current Ireland squad that lined out against France in the 1998 Five Nations Championship. The 29-year-old scored a first-half try to help the Irish towards a 13-6 half-time lead, but Warren Gatland's charges were undone in the second and slumped to the wooden spoon.
At Paris' Stade de France, there was the unusual sight of one Mick Lynch on the Irish bench - the then 27-year-old Young Munster centre was an unused replacement - with Ulster's Mark McCall (ribs) injured in the lead-up to the game.
Five Nations Championship: March 7, 1998: France 18 Ireland 16, Stade de France Scorers: France: Tries: Raphael Ibanez, Philippe Bernat-Salles; Con: Christophe Lamaison; Pens: Lamaision 2 Ireland: Try: Denis Hickie; Con: Eric Elwood; Pens: Elwood 3
Ireland: Conor O'Shea; Richard Wallace, Kevin Maggs, Rob Henderson, Denis Hickie; Eric Elwood, Conor McGuinness; Reggie Corrigan, Keith Wood (Capt), Paul Wallace, Paddy Johns, Malcolm O'Kelly, David Corkery, Andy Ward, Victor Costello.
Subs: Nick Popplewell, Ross Nesdale, Peter Clohessy, Mick Galwey, Mick Lynch, Brian O'Meara, David Humphreys.
Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland). HT: France 6 Ireland 13