Ireland came into this year’s Six Nations with a Grand Slam on the agenda, falling just short.
Their bid was impressive nonetheless, collecting 21 points out of a possible 25, scoring the most points and conceding the least as they won the Triple Crown and lost the Grand Prix to France.
For Tadhg Beirne and his team-mates, it was a night to celebrate a good performance knowing that they still have work to do to reach their ultimate goals.
“We’re here to win titles, that’s our goal,” said the Munster from the second row.
“Ultimately we wanted to win the championship, we arrived with the aim of winning a Grand Slam and we couldn’t and the championship was out of our hands after Paris, but we did absolutely everything to achieve that for ourselves in position to win the championship.
“We said after the game against France that the Triple Crown had only been won by Ireland once in over 10 years so we have to do that – a lot of lads haven’t won anything with Ireland to put a trophy in the dressing – Zimmer, we are all buzzing.”
That victory over Scotland will not be remembered for long but it is a hallmark of this side that they managed to win and score even when things went against them.
Beirne confirmed the feeling that they were at their best in the opening weekend and couldn’t maintain that level throughout the tournament, but they still managed to pick up bonus points in four of the five games.
“A highlight would probably be the game against Wales. I felt like we came out really well and played incredibly well in that game,” he said.
“Once again, to win a trophy at home in front of our own crowd today, that’s an incredible achievement and such excitement.
“Personally it’s been up and down, but I’ve played five games on the go and it’s been incredibly fun, it’s been like that since day one at camp.”
First-half attempts from Dan Sheehan and Cian Healy put Ireland in position before Pierre Schoeman pulled one back for the visitors.
After the break, Josh van der Flier’s goal gave his side some breathing room and Conor Murray’s late shot secured a needless bonus point.
After their preparation was dominated by disciplinary issues, Scotland came on with a point to prove and put in a brave performance that might have caused Ireland more grief had they not been so charitable.
Stuart Hogg’s recent roar from the Aviva Stadium summed up the difference between those teams, but Beirne welcomed the tackle Hugo Keenan executed on his opposite number after leaning greedily for a goal, as the obvious option a pass to Sam Johnson was.
“That was an incredible tackle. You know he does that all the time, you can see his work output off the ball,” said the Kildare native.
“I’m very happy for him. It certainly lifted us as a squad, and we’ve continued from there.
Now the focus is on the provincial run-in as Andy Farrell begins to plan the New Zealand tour with a squad fully committed to his plan.
“Absolutely. Everyone in here believes in what we’re doing, in the way we’re moving forward,” Beirne said. “Everyone’s excited for what’s to come.
“New Zealand will shoot at us, hopefully we can continue the process of getting better week by week; Of course everyone will now return to their clubs and focus on getting in the squad for this tour. Before that, we will be happy about this win.”
Ireland – H Keenan (J Carbery 74); M Hansen, G Ringrose, B Aki (R Henshaw 56), J Lowe; J Sexton (Captain), J Gibson Park (C Murray 67); C Healy (D Kilcoyne 52), D Sheehan (R Herring 63), T Furlong (F Bealham 68); T Beirne, I Henderson (K Treadwell 63); C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan (P O’Mahony 52).
Scotland – S. Hogg (Captain); D Graham, C Harris (F Russell 67), S Johnson (M Bennett 61), K Steyn; B Kinghorn, A Price (B White 61); P Schoeman (A Dell 74), G Turner (F Brown 52), Z Fagerson (WP Nel 55); J Gray, G Gilchrist (S Skinner 52); R Darge, H Watson, M Fagerson (S Bayliss 63).
Ref—W. Barnes (England).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/beirne-incredible-achievement-to-win-triple-crown-41468957.html Beirne: “Incredible performance” to win the Triple Crown