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Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 20:19 GMT
Celtic victory tastes sweet
Brian O'Driscoll says Irish coach Warren Gatland was very low after Saturday's defeat
BBC Sport Online columnist Brian O'Driscoll says Leinster's seven-man pack laid the foundations for the team's Celtic League triumph

What a victory.

To win in those circumstances of being a man down and nine points behind early in the second half is just unbelievable.

Drinking from the Celtic League cup tastes sweet, take it from me.

I've already had two scoops from the trophy and it may not be the last as we're scheduled to visit a few Dublin hostelries over the next couple of hours.

There's no doubt that it was a pretty bruising encounter.

Somebody said to me after the match that civil wars can be rather rough affairs and that was the way it proved.


Keith Gleeson was magnificent while what can you say about Paul Wallace's efforts in the scrums
Brian O'Driscoll

Interprovincial games can be like that too but I suppose they don't have the kind of profile that this match had, so some of the tackles, legitimate or otherwise may have surprised a few people.

Losing Eric at that relatively early stage of the match could have potentially been a huge blow.

But our seven forwards summoned up the resolve to make up for Eric's absence which is some effort when you consider that he is in world-class form at the moment.

I hate singling out individual forwards because it was a seven-man effort but I have to mention Keith Gleeson and Paul Wallace.

Keith was magnificent while what can you say about Paul Wallace's efforts in the scrums.

He was operating there minus a wing-forward but he just kept the thing rock-steady.

Leinster coach Matt Williams inspired his players at half-time
Matt Williams: Rousing half-time team talk

It was an unbelievable effort from Paul.

Our coach Matt Williams has to take a huge amount of credit.

If we're being really honest, I think probably part of us doubted whether we would be able to fight back in the second half but Matt's team-talk was rousing to say the least.

By the time we went on to the field again, we had a new sense of purpose, really believing we could win the match.

We knew we had to play to our strength which is running rugby and Shane Horgan and Denis Hickie really took the game to Munster after half-time.

Gordon D'Arcy's try turned the game in our favour.


The final was a great occasion with a very good crowd of 40,000
Brian O'Driscoll

We had finally broken through the Munster defence which was a huge psychological blow for us.

As regards the second try, I didn't realise Shaggy (Shane Horgan) was so close to me after I had chipped and chased.

I think it was John O'Neill who took me out but thankfully Shane was following up to get the touchdown which prevented any penalty-try controversies.

Obviously I'm biased but I think the final was a great occasion with a very good crowd of around 40,000 turning up to watch the match.

The Celtic League is a great competition and I hope the administrators do everything in their power to ensure that it goes from strength to strength.

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