Ireland hang tough to retain Six Nations title

March 17, 2024 6:46 am

[Source: Reuters]

Ireland spluttered but did enough to beat Scotland 17-13 at the Aviva Stadium this morning and clinch back-to-back Six Nations titles for the second time in 11 years to put last year’s World Cup disappointment behind them.

After England denied them a bid for successive Grand Slams last week, a sluggish Ireland looked at risk of relinquishing their grip on the title and giving the English something to play for in Paris after eking out an unconvincing 7-6 halftime lead.

Andy Farrell’s men showed far more intent straight after the break, however, pushing hard until Andrew Porter’s 65th-minute try put daylight between the sides, only for a late Huw Jones try and an Irish yellow card to set up a nervy finish.

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The victory kept Ireland clear of second-placed England, eased the disappointment of another crushing World Cup quarter-final defeat and ensured the post-Johnny Sexton era began with silverware.

It may also prove a fitting farewell to Sexton’s successor as captain, Peter O’Mahony, who before lifting the trophy said his 105th cap could be his last.

“If it was the last one, I’ll be a happy man,” said the 34-year-old Munster flanker who was in tears during the anthems and indicated he would make a decision about his future within weeks.

O’Mahony had reminded fans after the disappointment at Twickenham that Ireland would have given anything for a single title not so long ago. They had gone 24 years without a championship before the Grand Slam of 2009.

“These days don’t come around,” he said. “We put in a lot of hard work, going back to the World Cup. It was tough but it galvanised us. To come back from that defeat, it shows the character in the group we have.”