Brian O'Driscoll reflected on a "sweet, sweet day" after Ireland won their first Grand Slam for 61 years.
The Irish captain scored one try and wing Tommy Bowe the other as Ireland made history by beating Wales 17-15 in an epic RBS 6 Nations decider at the Millennium Stadium. It was Irelands’s first championship victory since 1985.
For O’Driscoll it was the culmination of 10 years in which his Irish team have been the nearly men of the RBS 6 Nations, three times spurning chances to take the title.
He said: “It’s a fantastic feeling and just reward for the hard work we’ve put in through a lot of years. We’ve had good times and not so good times, but this is a great time.
“We’re just absolutely delighted that we’ve reached our goal. We wanted the big one and it’s nice to say you’re the one that has achieved the Grand Slam.”
It could not have been tighter.
Wales led 6-0 at half-time through two penalties from Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones.
But then Ireland wrested control with their two tries in three minutes just after the interval, both of which were converted by Ronan O’Gara.
It gave Ireland a 14-6 lead, before Jones kicked two penalties and then appeared to wreck the Irish dreams with a late drop goal.
The drama, however, was not over, O’Gara slotting over a late drop goal of his own and then Jones agonisingly missing a penalty with the last kick of the match eight minutes into injury time.
It sparked wild celebrations amid the green ranks inside the Millennium Stadium and desperate disappointment for the Welsh who were robbed of the title and finished fourth in the Championship table.
O’Driscoll said: “We could have lost at the death so the shock factor set in for a few seconds and then over the next few minutes we enjoyed the elation with team-mates, ones you’ve put your body on the line for.
“That’s the most important thing, to be able to look them in the face and know you’ve put your body on the line. That’s pretty sweet.”
O’Driscoll, who admitted he was praying Jones did not have the distance as the final kick was launched, revealed the three-quarters had been motivated by a rousing speech from O’Gara on the morning of the match.
He said: “Ronan speaks very passionately. He took the backs aside and had everybody’s attention, 100% of everybody’s concentration.
“Ronan has had some great highs but some lows too. He showed great strength of character to come back and knock that drop goal over. You wouldn’t think he had a nerve in his body.
“We’ve never considered ourselves nearly men. The margins are so small. You need the occasional kick to drop two metres short and the odd refereeing decision. Overall we deserved it.
“Thankfully 10 years of luck came today. But we didn’t panic when they knocked over that drop goal with four minutes to go. We were composed.
“For me, scoring is an added bonus. I really couldn’t care less who gets the tries.”
Ireland coach Declan Kidney was almost overcome by the occasion after delivering the Grand Slam in his first season in charge.
He said: “It’s fairly special. Boys did what they said they would do even though we could have got caught at the end. It’s just brilliant, just unbelievable.
“Unless you have a love for the game you don’t win. They worked hard. They have been very honest and to be here myself is a privilege.”
It was left to O’Driscoll to sum up Kidney’s achievement.
He said: “He’s put together a great team. He knows his strengths. It’s no secret he’s won a couple of European Cups and now a Grand Slam. He has an X-factor about him and you either have that or you don’t.”