Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan admits he fears a Wales side fuelled by confidence and is predicting a high-octane afternoon when the RBS 6 Nations rivals collide at Croke Park.
Self-belief is slowly being restored to the Irish psyche, with Saturday’s 34-13 victory over Scotland building on the battling defeat in Paris.
Unbeaten Wales are one step ahead, with the new coaching regime of Warren Gatland and his lieutenant Shaun Edwards inspiring their own post-World Cup revival.
Italy were swatted aside 47-8 on Saturday to leave the Welsh as the only remaining contenders for the Grand Slam and O’Sullivan accepts they will be formidable adversaries in two weeks time.
“We saw in 2005 that Wales built momentum throughout the tournament and went on to win a Grand Slam,” he said this morning.
“Wales are a very difficult team to play against when they’re confident.
“All sides play better when they’re confident but Wales do fire very well when they’re on top of their game.
“They’ve had some great results in recent years against the top teams in the world, especially in Cardiff.
“They play well as a confidence team and they’re in that frame of mind right now.
“We have to be up front about it, accept they’re firing at the moment and believe in what they’re doing.
“That makes them a force to be reckoned with.”
O’Sullivan has braced Croke Park for a thriller - if the weather holds.
“It could be the match of the tournament,” he said.
“Because of the direction we’re going and because of our own growing confidence, we could have a cracking game on our hands.
“Both teams like to run and if it’s a dry day at Croke Park, it will be all bets are off and a great spectacle.”