If this is goodbye to Peter O’Mahony then the Ireland captain could not have wished for a better Guinness Men’s Six Nations swan song.

O’Mahony said himself that he is unsure about his future and, while time is on his side, the signs were there to suggest that one of Irish rugby’s greatest admirals may have completed his last voyage.

Even before kick-off there was a distinct focus on O’Mahony – he was the cover of the match programme and his captain’s notes included a good few thank yous.

It was Tadhg Beirne who led the side onto the field on the occasion of his 50th cap but O’Mahony quickly caught the glare of the TV cameras, head bowed for almost the entire Ireland’s Call.

What unfolded next was the type of contest he relishes. The Munster mongrel, as he was once affectionately dubbed by Warren Gatland, exudes toughness and a raging competitive spirit, and Ireland had to dig deep into their reserves to see off stubborn Scotland 17-13 at the Aviva Stadium.

O’Mahony left the pitch to a standing ovation just seconds before the game’s decisive score from Andrew Porter, as the flanker’s personal Six Nations title tally extended to five including two Grand Slams.

“It means the world to me,” said the 34-year-old.

“We didn’t want to lose last week but we knew we needed to get back on the horse and put in a better performance.

“Back at home with the Championship on the line, we felt the pressure and the nerves, it was a big day for us.”

With back-to-back Six Nations winners’ medals and last season’s United Rugby Championship trophy on the mantelpiece, it’s fair to say that O’Mahony would be bowing out at the top.

There is of course the temptation of a two-Test tour to South Africa in the summer, where Ireland have never won a series before, but O’Mahony insists he will not be rushed into a decision.

“It’s hard (to take it all in) because it’s so special,” said O’Mahony, who shared trophy lifting duties with Tadhg Furlong following the death of his father in December.

“You want it to last for hours, it’s a rare feeling. I need to go and talk to my wife and family and have a think about it.

“I won’t be making any decisions over the next few days. I’m still loving it.

“This part is the best feeling in the world and that’s the part you chase. I can hang the jersey in a good place if it was my last Ireland game.”

Sound succession planning has teed Ryan Baird up for the No.6 jersey whenever O’Mahony does decide to call it quits.

It’s no exaggeration to say Baird would probably walk into most international back rows but such is Ireland’s forward depth, he’s been forced to be patient.

Head coach Andy Farrell has very recent experience of replacing a talismanic leader. Johnny Sexton’s departure has been softened by Jack Crowley’s emergence and the fly-half reflected positively on his first full campaign as a starter.

“At times it wasn’t perfect at all but it’s a great group to play in terms of an expectation to rise to the level that’s there,” he said.

“As an individual, you just need to bring your own game and then deliver what the team needs. At times there were mistakes, but I have the backing of the group and to play with them is so special.

“It’s different starting in terms of running the ship and steering the lads into position but with the players I have around me it makes my job so much easier, so it’s a pleasure playing with them.”

In the pack, Joe McCarthy has been one of the finds of this year’s Championship.

He started with a Player of the Match performance in France but after failing to hit the same heights away to England in Round 4, the 22-year-old lock was determined to right a few wrongs.

“We had a few tough meetings and got a few tough conversations out in the early part of the week,” he said.

“We were fully trying to get a good performance, it was Tadhg Beirne’s 50th, so we always try and make that special for guys.

“So we turned the page and we’re happy to win. Winning the Six Nations is never easy, so it’s class.”

Nobody relishes a challenge as much as O’Mahony and perhaps Farrell’s next big task will be finding someone else to lead the side with such class and authority.

“He’s an absolute legend,” said McCarthy. “I can’t stop laughing when I’m around him, he’s the heartbeat of our team.

“You have such confidence when he’s in the team with you. I’d love him to keep going and I think everybody else would, he’s a special Irish player.”

Crowley added: “He is what you see, there’s no cover to him, he’s a leader and to play alongside him for these last couple of years has been a privilege.

“He’s someone I have so much respect for and the group have such respect for because he’s himself and he leads with his actions. Hopefully we’ll see him a while longer.”