Saturday, December 15, 2001 and Saturday, May 3, 2008. Two dates which will go down in Leinster rugby history. The first saw Leinster edge out Munster in the inaugural Celtic League final and the second marked their Magners League title-clinching win over the Dragons, with Brian O’Driscoll playing a sizeable role in both games.
Indeed, Brian O’Driscoll set up a try for Shane Horgan in both of the above fixtures. The Ireland pair started the two games, along with their fellow internationals Girvan Dempsey, Malcolm O’Kelly and Keith Gleeson, while Leinster’s stand-in captain this season – Leo Cullen – was another starter in the 2001 decider.
O’Driscoll may have achieved a lot in his career to date but he insisted after the 41-8 hammering of the Dragons that this latest league success ‘was right up there’ in his career highlights.
“Yeah, it’s definitely up there in my career highlights because winning silverware is a very important thing both for an individual and a team,” the Leinster skipper admitted.
“It was great (to win it here at the RDS). It was somewhat symptomatic of our season in that we went out, played well and still left a lot of tries out there. We could have scored 50 or 60 points but we made a fair few mistakes.
“There was an end-of-season feel to the game but to score over 40 points in the game which clinched the title is terrific for us and the crowd.”
O’Driscoll conceded that although ‘the big one’ is in three weeks’ time when Munster meet Toulouse in the Heineken Cup final, winning the Magners League crown is still special as the competition really shows how consistent a side has been from September right through to May.
“The good thing about the Magners League is that it’s picked up so much kudos over the past few years, not just from the spectators but also the players,” he added.
“It’s now a very worthy competition. It was good to win it in the first year of the competition because it was new and fresh but then it went off the boil a bit.
“However, over the past few years, with Magners coming on board as sponsors and teams really taking it very seriously, it’s become a very good competition and one that everyone wants to win.”