“Incroyable! Quel matchwinner! Quel matchwinner!” The French commentator could barely believe what he was seeing as Johnny Sexton dropped the ball over the French posts from all of 42 metres. It was a moment that will surely feature in the next edition of Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Moments.
Johnny’s drop goal was indeed incredible but while it clinched a rare victory for Ireland in Paris, there was another pivotal moment, which in time may be forgotten about as the video of the YouTube videos of the match-winning kick are edited.
With the clock 27 seconds red, Sexton dropped the ball onto his wand-like right foot and delivered a perfectly measured cross-field kick into the safe hands of Keith Earls. Suddenly, and after 23 phases of stalemate, Ireland found themselves in French territory, and while there were hard yards still to be won, Sexton had put Les Bleus on the back foot. Incroyable indeed!
It wasn’t the only display of guts in a clutch situation last weekend, however. On Sunday in Thurles, Donie Smith did his claims for a starting berth no harm with a sideline kick Maurice Fitzgerald would have been proud of, at a time when Roscommon were edging ahead in stoppage time.
A few hours later in Minnesota, Philadelphia Eagles Quarter-Back, Nick Foles, called for a “Philly Special” and became the first QB in history to throw for and catch a touchdown in the Super Bowl. A trick play in the biggest game of the year against one of the best teams in modern history? No wonder they were flipping cars in the City of Brotherly Love last Sunday night!
Sometimes drills and playbooks will only get you so far and then it’s up to the players to come good at vital moments. Paris, Thurles and Minnesota each had a sprinkling of magic last weekend and Roscommon and Ireland will be hoping for more of the same over the next few months.