11 March, 2018
"I'd imagine that the words Grand and Slam have been whispered, or even shouted, this week".
President Michael D Higgins led the congratulations as Ireland wrapped up the NatWest 6 Nations title with a game to spare after they beat Scotland and England lost to France.
France could now finish as high as second in the Six Nations table if they topple Wales on Saturday and head coach Jacques Brunel was delighted after stitching together successive wins against Italy and England.
"Everyone knows the size of the challenge".
If you look at how they've been evolving, they've put together some very, very good performances. We've never won it, certainly not in my five years with the team... the other two times we've won it away from home so it's nice to have won it at home today.
Two wayward Peter Horne passes cost Scotland dear, the first forcing Blair Kinghorn to dive to retrieve, when if accurate could have let the full debutant fly into the corner.
What time is Ireland v Wales on TV? However, the throw-in wasn't caught.
But the visitors dug in and got the first points on the board when Laidlaw stroked over a routine penalty in the 13th minute.
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Made a fantastic save to deny Christian Benteke moments after United equalised though, which enabled United to go on and win. David de Gea will don the goalkeeper's gloves in the match as the Spaniard has been outrightly impressive in recent games.
Ireland were knocked out of their stride for periods of the game but were far more ruthless, devouring all of the opportunities that came their way in stark contrast to the opposition. A nice flick-on by center Garry Ringrose, playing only his second match this year, freed fullback Rob Kearney.
Scrumhalf Conor Murray wriggled over early in the second half to widen Ireland's advantage, but it was replacement Sean Cronin's try in the 68th minute that could prove a title victor.
Heeding their latest reprieve, Ireland stole a Scotland lineout to storm clear.
Ireland went all out for the fourth try.
"We respect the threat that France offer at the breakdown, so yes it's been a big area of focus for us".
Scotland captain John Barclay conceded a penalty in his half but Sexton, again, kicked for touch rather than the posts.
The resulting maul was roared to the rafters and the Scottish defence was powerless to prevent sub hooker Cronin from crashing over.
"There's so much still to play for and we know how hard it is going to be against England. We play Ireland next year in the Six Nations and we will play them in 18 months at the World Cup and we need to make sure we are a better team when we play them".