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Ronan Oâ€™Garaâ€™s drop-goal against Wales which won the Grand Slam for Ireland in 2009 has been named as Ireland’s favourite Championship moment.
With Irelandâ€™s quest for 6 Nations Grand Slam glory about to enter the final stage, Ulster Bank conducted a national survey ahead of Saturdayâ€™s crucial tie about what the Irish public think of the team on and off the pitch.
Almost one third (31%) voted for Oâ€™Gara’s match-winning score in Cardiff as Irelandâ€™s most historic Championship moment – although the momentous meeting of Ireland and England in Croke Park in 2007 was top among 49% of Irish adults aged 55 and over.
The rivalry may have been high on the pitch last weekend given the significance of Irelandâ€™s crunch tie with Scotland, but it was far more friendly off the pitch, almost half (47%) of Irish adults saying that Scottish fans are the best craic on a night out.
When it comes to former Irish greats, Brian Oâ€™Driscoll (45%) took top spot among those surveyed when they were asked who they wish could don the Irish jersey once again, with Munster duo Paul Oâ€™Connell (32%) and Ronan Oâ€™Gara (15%) claiming second and third spots respectively. Oâ€™Driscoll also claimed the title of Irelandâ€™s leading TV pundit, with 30% of those surveyed opting for the former Leinster man.
When asked about which current Irish rugby player the nation would like to see on Dancing with the Stars, Johnny Sexton (27%) enjoyed 27% of the vote, followed closely by fellow teammates Rob Kearney (23%) and Conor Murray (17%). Johnny Sextonâ€™s appeal to Irish people shows no sign of waning anytime soon as 41% of people questioned would like to see him take up residency in Ã�ras an Uachtarain.
After his heroics in Irelandâ€™s opening match of the Championship in Paris, Sexton was also top choice (59%) when it comes to stepping up for a match-winning drop goal. Ronan Oâ€™Gara came in a close second (36%) – but he topped the poll in his native Munster.
Despite the Irish squad looking stronger than ever, 33% of respondents claimed they would like Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones to join the Irish squad. Ireland’s defensive coach Andy Farrellâ€™s son Owen Farrell comes in a close second (23%) and Scottish full-back Stuart Hogg claiming third place (20%).
Speaking on the results, Carol McMahon, Head of Business Marketing and Sponsorship at Ulster Bank, said: â€œIt has been a really thrilling Championship to date as Ireland continue on their winning streak in their quest for a Grand Slam.
â€œOur survey revealed some very interesting results and letâ€™s hope Johnny Sexton gets the opportunity to give us another memorable moment this weekend similar to his historic drop goal in Paris!
â€œAs proud sponsors of the Ulster Bank League and supporting grassroots rugby in Ireland, we were delighted to see the Ulster Bank league selection beat their Scottish counterpoints recently and Joe Schmidt and his team following suit last weekend.â€�
On this week’s Paper Talk podcast: A step on Limerick’s journey, Kerry ‘chastened’ and Dubs put paid to The Savage Hunger
– Digital desk