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Toner: We Kept Our Emotions In Check For ‘Grand Final’

Toner: We Kept Our Emotions In Check For ‘Grand Final’

Second row Devin Toner says that being able to control their emotions helped Ireland win a first Six Nations crown since 2009.

Devin Toner played the full 80 minutes in Paris as Joe Schmidt’s men scored three tries to beat France and pip England to the Championship.

The Leinster lock revealed that the Irish squad had been able to block out most of the hype in the build up to Saturday’s game. He maintained it was a cool, calm and collected dressing room shortly before kick-off.

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“I think everyone knew what we’d got to do,” he said. “Everyone knew what we needed to bring out of ourselves. It wasn’t that emotional, to be honest, because we knew we had a job to do.

“It was a final for us. A grand final – winner takes all. I’ve been lucky enough to play in a couple of finals so we kind of knew what to do, I suppose, and to keep the emotions in check.”

The fact that it was Brian O’Driscoll’s last game for Ireland inevitably crossed the players’ minds. But Toner says that any thoughts they had for their departing colleague did not impact on the task at hand.

“It’s in the back of your head I think,” he said of O’Driscoll’s impending retirement. “To the forefront is your own job – you don’t want to let your team-mates down.

“But then at the back of your head you know it’s his last international and his last season. Deep down it is (on your mind), but we don’t really speak about it because we’re all professional players and we all understand what’s going on.”

It was a different story towards the end of the game, when Pascal Papé looked to have sent Damien Chouly in for a try that would have denied Ireland the title.

“I was just inside Jack (McGrath). I actually didn’t think it was forward when I saw it first,” admitted Toner.

“It was kind of two minutes of pressure and then ecstasy. Emotions flying…thank God it was forward anyway.”

Toner said the game was ‘pretty god damn tough’ and admitted that the presence of some bruising French forwards made the contact area a particularly rough place to be.

All the hard work makes the reward all the sweeter, however. the towering Meath man revealed that the players took plenty of time in the dressing room after the game to fully take in what they had achieved.

“You spend about an hour just sitting down, talking and taking pictures and stuff. It’s a class feeling.”