BOD bids emotional farewell
A teary-eyed Brian O'Driscoll handed Ireland a perfect farewell present to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin with a crushing 46-7 Six Nations win over Italy.
The 35-year-old marked his world-record 140th Test cap by turning on the style and deftly setting up tries for Johnny Sexton and Andrew Trimble.
Victory over France in Paris next Saturday could see them seal the title as their points difference is far better than their rivals.
Cian Healy, Sexton, Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath scored further tries in a one-sided contest, but the occasion was all about O'Driscoll, who was substituted just after the hour mark to a rousing standing ovation.
And the centre fought back the tears as he admitted he was still getting used to the prospect of retirement.
"I haven't let myself think about. It's emotional," O'Driscoll said.
"It's been a huge part of my whole adult life and to leave here it's going to be hard. But it's a good way to leave it today and hopefully we set ourselves up for next week.
"I feel humbled by the reaction today. It seems a bit of a joke that you get man of the match for 60 minutes, but I've loved my time playing in this jersey. It had to come to an end at some stage and I'm glad I'm able to go out at home with a big win.
"It will only properly set in when I've had a bit of time."
O'Driscoll is now hoping to end his Ireland career by lifting the Six Nations trophy in Paris next Saturday.
He said: "Hopefully next week there's a performance and a championship in this team. We have to go to France with huge positivity.
"It's one thing playing in this jersey but it's another thing altogether winning in this jersey, and we've built a good standard. We're capable of doing great things and we have to start next week by trying to win a second championship as this unit of players."
O'Driscoll's stunning hat-trick guided Ireland to their sole Paris victory in 42 years in 2000: now he believes they can return to that scene and clinch the Six Nations crown.
"I feel we have the capability to win there of course, more so now than many of the other times we've gone over there.
"But we realise just how tough a challenge it is. We've won once there in 42 years, one win and one draw.
"We realise the size of the challenge, but we feel as though when we go well we're a difficult team to contain.
"So we just have to get ourselves up for one massive performance."