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Famous Five: Ireland v Wales

Famous Five: Ireland v Wales

We take a look at some of the memorable Ireland v Wales clashes over the last few years – including 1999’s historic meeting at Wembley, and last season’s six-try success at Lansdowne Road.

We take a look at some of the memorable Ireland v Wales clashes over the last few years – including 1999’s historic meeting at Wembley, and last season’s six-try success at Lansdowne Road.

March 2004: Six Nations: “O’Driscoll Back In Business”
Ireland 36 Wales 15, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Shane Byrne 2, Brian O’Driscoll 2, Ronan O’Gara, Anthony Foley; Cons: O’Gara 3
Wales: Tries: Tom Shanklin 2; Con: Stephen Jones; Pen: Jones

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A try after 58 seconds from hooker Shane Byrne ignited Ireland as they blitzed the visitors by six tries to two, 12 months ago.

Byrne went on to score another with skipper Brian O’Driscoll – back from a hamstring lay-off – also bagging a brace – the second of which, set up by Girvan Dempsey, saw him equal Denis Hickie’s original try record of 23.

A late try-double from Tom Shanklin bolstered Wales but the Irish were too far ahead – chalking up their fifth straight win against the Dragons.

The game was also notable for the stunning form of the centre partnership of O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy – with 25 carries between them. The latter also led the tackle count with 8.

IRELAND: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (Capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Tyrone Howe; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Reggie Corrigan, Shane Byrne, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Simon Easterby, Keith Gleeson, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Simon Best, Malcolm O’Kelly, Victor Costello, Guy Easterby, David Humphreys, Kevin Maggs.

March 2003: Six Nations: “O’Gara The Super Sub”
Wales 24 Ireland 25, Millennium Stadium
Scorers: Wales: Tries: Stephen Jones, Martyn Williams, Gareth Thomas; Cons: Jones 3; Drop gl: Jones
Ireland: Tries: Keith Gleeson 2; Pens: David Humphreys 4; Drop gl: Ronan O’Gara

Eddie O’Sullivan’s side might have been outscored by three tries to two, but a last gasp drop goal from substitute Ronan O’Gara rescued Ireland’s fourth win of the Championship.

It mattered little in the end as just seven days later, a dominant England wrecked our Grand Slam dreams – pulling off a 42-6 demolition job at a shell-shocked Lansdowne Road.

In Cardiff, a ragged performance from the Irish – who missed 18 tackles to Wales’ nine, and made just 3 offloads-in-the-tackle to the home side’s 23 – was offset by two Keith Gleeson tries either side of the break.

The Leinster flanker was put over after Geordan Murphy had carved open the Welsh rearguard in first half injury-time, and just a minute into the second half, Gleeson struck again as Anthony Foley charged down Tom Shanklin’s clearance kick.

Martyn Williams and Gareth Thomas – notching his 29th Test try – did draw the Welsh back into it with well-worked touch downs.

And while Stephen Jones crept over an injury-time drop goal in the closing minutes for a 24-22 Wales lead, it was O’Gara who turned the hero thirty seconds later. Jones then conspired to miss two further drop shots – leaving Steve Hansen’s men bottom of the Six Nations pile.

IRELAND: Geordan Murphy; Justin Bishop, Brian O’Driscoll (Capt), Kevin Maggs, Denis Hickie; David Humphreys, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Shane Byrne, John Hayes, Leo Cullen, Malcolm O’Kelly, Alan Quinlan, Keith Gleeson, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Justin Fitzpatrick, Donncha O’Callaghan, Eric Miller, Guy Easterby, Ronan O’Gara, John Kelly.

February 2002: Six Nations: “Record Start For O’Sullivan”
Ireland 54 Wales 10, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Geordan Murphy 2, Paul O’Connell, Keith Gleeson, Denis Hickie, Ronan O’Gara; Cons: O’Gara, David Humphreys 2; Pens: Humphreys 6
Wales: Try: Stephen Jones; Con: Jones; Pen: Jones

A Mick Galwey-led Ireland handed Eddie O’Sullivan the perfect start to his tenure as coach as they chalked up a record victory against the Welsh.

The visitors lost seven lineouts in all – and conceded 14 penalties – six of which a deadly David Humphreys kicked – on an afternoon which put the final nail in the coffin of Graham Henry’s Wales career. The Kiwi coach parted company with the WRU just three days later.

A rampant Ireland had racked up a 24-3 buffer by half-time, despite missing the injured trio of Keith Wood, Shane Horgan and Malcolm O’Kelly.

Peter “The Claw” Clohessy led them onto the field on the occasion of his 50th cap and it was half-century high fives all round by the final whistle.

Man-of-the-match Humphreys set up Geordan Murphy for a first Irish try on 5 minutes. Lock debutante Paul O’Connell then won a lineout and drove gleefully over for the second, only to retire soon after with a head injury.

Murphy, Denis Hickie – set up by Humphreys – first-time flanker Keith Gleeson – racing onto a Brian O’Driscoll chip – and finally substitute Ronan O’Gara all grabbed second-half tries to post up Ireland’s second biggest Championship win, just behind 2000’s 60-13 thumping of Italy.

Unfortunately a fortnight later, England undid that good work – running in six tries – four in the first-half – in a 45-11 defeat for the Irish at Twickenham.

IRELAND: Girvan Dempsey; Geordan Murphy, Brian O’Driscoll, Kevin Maggs, Denis Hickie; David Humphreys, Peter Stringer; Peter Clohessy, Frankie Sheahan, John Hayes, Mick Galwey (Capt), Paul O’Connell, Simon Easterby, David Wallace, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: Shane Byrne, Paul Wallace, Gary Longwell, Keith Gleeson, Guy Easterby, Ronan O’Gara, Rob Henderson.

February 1999: Five Nations: “Wood A Wembley Wonder”
Wales 23 Ireland 29, Wembley Stadium
Scorers: Wales: Tries: Shane Howarth, Craig Quinnell; Cons: Neil Jenkins 2; Pens: Jenkins 3
Ireland: Tries: Kevin Maggs, Keith Wood; Cons: David Humphreys 2; Pens: Humphreys 3; Drop gls: Humphreys 2

Having missed a last minute penalty kick two weeks earlier in an agonising 10-9 loss to France, David Humphreys proved he was back on song at the home of English football – pocketing a 19-point haul to help Wales on the way to the ’99 wooden spoon.

It was only the second time Ireland had faced Wales on English soil – but away from the history, the Irish once more did little for the hearts and minds of their supporters.

26-6 up, the men in green allowed Wales to reduce the arrears to 26-23 with just 13 minutes remaining. Keith Wood’s barmstorming 47th-minute try had originally helped to set up that 20-point gap.

This was a monumental day in the career of talismanic hooker Wood – a first taste of a Five Nations victory, despite making his debut five years previously.

His fourth international try – scored under the posts and complete with a neat jink past Wales centre Scott Gibbs – was set up by a mazy Niall Woods run. A lacklustre clearance kick from Neil Jenkins had been blocked down on 21 minutes for Kevin Maggs to score Ireland’s opener.

Afterwards a buoyant Humphreys thanked coach Warren Gatland for “polishing my boots during the week.”

“If he didn’t polish them then he certainly took them away and did something to them,” admitted the Ulster number 10.

The win sparked hopes of a Triple Crown with England to visit Dublin and Scotland to follow in Murrayfield – that dream was quickly quashed 27-15 by the English, and the ultimate kick-in-the-teeth came in a four-try 30-13 loss in Edinburgh a few weeks later. Thankfully a worse points difference saw France claim the wooden spoon.

IRELAND: Conor O’Shea; Justin Bishop, Kevin Maggs, Jonathan Bell, Niall Woods; David Humphreys, Conor McGuinness; Peter Clohessy, Keith Wood, Paul Wallace, Paddy Johns (Capt), Jeremy Davidson, Dion O Cuinneagain, Andy Ward, Eric Miller.
Replacements: Justin Fitzpatrick, Victor Costello, Mick Galwey, Ciaran Scally, Eric Elwood, Rob Henderson, Ross Nesdale.

February 1997: Five Nations: “Elwood Kicks Irish Home”
Wales 25 Ireland 26, Cardiff Arms Park
Scorers: Wales: Tries: Ieuan Evans 2, Scott Quinnell; Cons: Neil Jenkins; Pens: Jenkins 2
Ireland: Tries: Eric Miller, Jonathan Bell, Denis Hickie; Con: Eric Elwood; Pens: Elwood 3

Brian Ashton’s Ireland picked up the wooden spoon in ’97, and their only win of the season against Wales at the Cardiff Arms Park.

Tries from debutante winger Denis Hickie – then 20 – his current Leinster team mate Eric Miller – notching his first Test score as a 21-year-old – and then Northampton centre Jonny Bell helped the men in green to a 20-6 half-time lead in the Welsh capital.

Eric Elwood – who had earlier kicked a penalty – succeeded with a further two in the second period to steer Ashton’s men to their first success in 11 months. Coincidentally the last one also came against Wales (30-17, Lansdowne Road).

The afternoon marked Bermondsey-born full-back Jim Staples’ fifth outing as Irish captain. In a total turnaround from the modern era, Staples was one of ten England-based players used in the one-point victory.

The front five were all based across the Irish sea – Nick Popplewell and Ross Nesdale (both Newcastle), Paul Wallace and Paddy Johns (both Saracens) and Jeremy Davidson (London Irish).

IRELAND: Jim Staples (Capt); Denis Hickie, Maurice Field, Jonathan Bell, Dominic Crotty; Eric Elwood, Niall Hogan; Nick Popplewell, Ross Nesdale, Paul Wallace, Paddy Johns, Jeremy Davidson, David Corkery, Denis McBride, Eric Miller.
Replacements: Gabriel Fulcher, Kurt McQuilkin, David Humphreys, Stephen McIvor, Paul Flavin, Shane Byrne.