Greatest Tries: Ireland’s most memorable Championship scores

Ireland opened their 2020 Guinness Six Nations try-scoring account in the Round 1 win over Scotland thanks to captain Johnny Sexton.

Ireland opened their 2020 Guinness Six Nations try-scoring account in the Round 1 win over Scotland thanks to captain Johnny Sexton.

It was a clinical attacking move that began with Cian Healy’s popped pass to scrum-half Conor Murray before Sexton exploited space created by Jordan Larmour to touch down unchallenged.

Undoubtedly a slick try and it follows in the tradition of plenty of other great Irish tries since the Five Nations became Six back in 2000 – here are some of the best.

Brian O’Driscoll v France (2000)

In the inaugural Six Nations, O’Driscoll announced his arrival on the international scene with a scintillating hat-trick at the Stade de France.

The pick of the bunch was O’Driscoll’s third as the fresh-faced 21-year-old somehow picked up a loose ball with his fingertips just outside the 22 and darted through a hole in the French backline to score.

There was just six minutes left on the clock and the score brought the Irish within one point of their hosts before a 78th-minute Rob Henderson penalty secured a memorable 27-25 victory.

Two days after St Patrick’s Day, the win sparked an Irish party in Paris – O’Driscoll was the hero and his path to legendary status had begun.

Girvan Dempsey v England (2004)

This was an archetypal team try, finished in style by the classy Irish full-back Girvan Dempsey and was also significant as it helped hand England a first defeat since lifting the World Cup the previous year.

The move at Twickenham started with a strong maul by the forwards and featured dazzling footwork by the always impressive Gordon D’Arcy.

Keith Gleeson and Tyrone Howe played their part in support and two miss-passes by D’Arcy and O’Driscoll punctured England’s defence.

Dempsey was the man able to dot down and send the travelling Irish contingent of fans wild.

Shane Horgan v England (2007)

Ireland’s first match at Croke Park, the home of the Gaelic Athletics Association, came earlier in the 2007 Championship against France. But it was England’s visit that will live long in the memory.

On one of the most emotional afternoons in Championship history, Ireland soared against their great rivals and recorded an emphatic 43-13 victory.

The men in green crossed the whitewash four times and Shane Horgan’s was perhaps the pick of the bunch, as he leapt high to collect a Ronan O’Gara cross-kick before dotting down in the corner.

Jamie Heaslip v France (2009)

61 years after their last Grand Slam, Ireland conquered all before them in 2009 as they romped to five wins from five.

There are so many magical moments to choose from in that campaign: Ronan O’Gara’s drop goal to seal it in Wales and Brian O’Driscoll’s outstanding performance against England immediately spring to mind.

But Jamie Heaslip was on a different planet during that Championship and he perhaps scored Ireland’s try of the year against France in Round 1. From a lineout inside their own half, Ireland made ground through Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe, while France scrambled back to tackle.

Three passes later and the ball was with Heaslip, who sidestepped Clement Poitrenaud and dotted down.

Tommy Bowe v France (2012)

Another magical Irish try at the Stade de France came during the 2012 Championship with a moment of brilliance from Tommy Bowe.

In a match rescheduled due to a frozen pitch, Bowe received the ball from Keith Earls in his own half and fended off the initial tackle from Wesley Fofana.

Bowe burst into French territory and delightfully chipped the ball over the covering defender before collecting his kick to score.

A fantastic solo effort which took the winger’s tally to five for the Championship and confirmed his status as one of the elite finishers in world rugby.

Cian Healy v Wales (2013)

An opening weekend trip to Cardiff to challenge the reigning Grand Slam champions was a daunting prospect for Declan Kidney’s squad but an impressive first-half display earned the Irish a 30-22 victory.

The highlight of the match was a score from Cian Healy that had a little bit of everything: industrious defensive work, attacking flair and a touch of pure power to finish.

After Rory Best charged down Dan Biggar’s clearance kick, Jamie Heaslip flung the ball wide where an improvised touch with the boot from Simon Zebo kept the move alive as he flicked the ball into his hands with his left heel while running at full speed.

A pair of offloads from Peter O’Mahony and Craig Kilroy then laid the foundations for Healy to bulldoze over from close range.

Robbie Henshaw v England (2015)

The Irish centre scored the only try of the game as Ireland beat England for a crucial victory en route to winning the Championship on points difference.

Scrum-half Conor Murray spotted space behind the English defence and hoisted a box kick high into the Dublin sky.

Henshaw beat England full-back Alex Goode in the aerial challenge and managed to ground the ball before falling out of play.

A try as much about Murray’s ingenuity as Henshaw’s grounding and a crucial score in securing Ireland’s second title in as many years.

Jamie Heaslip v Italy (2016)

If you love exciting, attacking rugby then this match was about as good as it gets as Ireland ran in a Championship record-breaking nine tries including this glorious team score.

The move started in the defensive 22 and involved nine passes between seven different players all in a single phase.

The Italians couldn’t get close to stopping an Irish backline in full flight as Johnny Sexton produced a trademark wraparound, Fergus McFadden helped the ball on and Simon Zebo unleashed an angled break and one-handed offlaod.

Jared Payne and Andrew Trimble then combined on the right wing before the ball was worked back across the pitch for Heaslip to score a try that was voted World Rugby Try of the Year for 2016.

Jacob Stockdale v England (2018)

The most recent try on our list and one of the most important as Ireland secured the Grand Slam at Twickenham.

Stockdale’s score had shades of Bowe in Paris with the winger collecting his own kick before diving to ground the ball with the dead-ball line looming.

A record-breaking seventh try in a single Championship for the flying winger and a third Irish Grand Slam in Championship history.