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Dublin farewelled Brian ODriscoll in style last weekend. The great man sweetened the occasion with a magic effort against Italy, tarnished later only by his rendition of Barry Manilows "Copacabana" in the changing room. While it was a fitting celebration of ODriscoll, theres symmetry in him bowing out of international rugby on Saturday in a likely Six Nations title decider in Paris. Thats where he launched himself on the rugby worlds consciousness in 2000 with a hat trick of tries in Irelands first win there over France in 28 years. To that point, he was an Irish star with 10 tests. Marked for great things as a teen with humility masking a ferocious competitiveness, he made his Ireland debut on the 1999 summer tour of Australia at age 20. Man-of-the-match awards in Irelands first two tour games made him a must-pick opposite Wallabies Dan Herbert and Tim Horan. ODriscoll held his own, and again in that years World Cup, where Ireland exited the group stage, embarrassed by Argentina. That was Ireland rugby then, a graveyard of dreams for more than a decade. But ODriscoll gave the side a world-class talent beside hooker Keith Wood, and a back who could create and score tries and return hope and thrills to Lansdowne Road. It took a 50-point hiding from England in the 2000 Six Nations opener for then-coach Warren Gatland to introduce the likes of John Hayes, Simon Easterby, Peter Stringer and Ronan OGara, who became stars of the new millennium as Irelands fortunes prospered. When France was overcome 27-25, Ireland had three wins in the championship for the first time in 15 years. ODriscolls was the first hat trick by an Irish player in the championship in 47 years. "It was lucky that I was in the right place at the right time," he said with a modesty that remains. ODriscoll has gone on to rack up a world record 140 tests, 139 of them starts, a record 132 for Ireland, the most Six Nations matches (64) and tries (26). He captained Ireland for 10 years to 2012 a record 83 times, and has 47 test tries, a record 46 for Ireland. He played in four World Cups without success, and only one win from four British and Irish Lions tours. Ireland also has won the Six Nations only once, when he scored tries in four of their wins in the 2009 Grand Slam. A second title beckons on Saturday. The statistics reward lasting class. But his legacy interests him more. ODriscoll woke up to the requirements of being professional during his first Lions tour in 2001, a tour de force for him. Hes responsible for revolutionizing Ireland, said captain Paul OConnell, in the team since 2002. "Hes spread confidence across the whole setup," OConnell said. "I grew up watching Ireland in the 90s and maybe that confidence wasnt there when an Irish team took the field. Any team that takes the field with Brian in it always feels they have a chance of winning. "When Brian finishes, that confidence will remain in the Irish setup, because a few players have moulded themselves on him a little bit and realized this is what you need to be to be the all-round rugby player." The 35-year-old ODriscoll has also remodeled himself. He has only one try since the 2011 World Cup, and no longer accelerates through gaps. But where his leg speed has declined, his mind has only sharpened. Ask Italy, victims last weekend. ODriscolls sleight of hand and awareness set up three of Irelands first four tries. He believes hand and awareness set up three of Irelands first four tries. He believes hisbroken, and has been grooming potential successors Robbie Henshaw and Darren Cave. Ireland has an abundance of midfield talent, he said. In giving advice, "Hes been generous to a fault," Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said. Where ODriscoll ranks among the great centres is another debate. Some in Ireland still consider him second to Mike Gibson, who retired in 1979, also after 15 years, as the world caps record-holder. No matter. ODriscolls greatness is set. Hell close a circle on Saturday at Stade de France. There, after that hat trick in the stunning victory in 2000, France coach Bernard Laporte said, "We could not stop him." Only time has. Adidas Superstar Outlet Italia . The league announced Thursday that Tom Higgins is leaving that post effective immediately. Adidas Superstar Outlet .C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes have activated defenceman Joni Pitkanen from injured reserve. http://www.adidassuperstarscontate.it/ . He was attracted by the punishing defence, the strong running game and a coaching staff he trusted. The 49ers announced Thursday that Manningham had signed a two-year deal to join the team he helped knock out in the NFC championship game two months ago in their latest offensive upgrade at wide receiver. Scarpe Adidas Superstar Scontate . Gordon reportedly failed another drug test and is facing a one-year ban. Gordon led the NFL in yards receiving last season despite being suspended two games for violating the leagues substance-abuse policy. Adidas Superstar Italia . - Mike Magee converted two penalty kicks in a 10-minute span of the first half and the Chicago Fire beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Sunday.BARCELONA, Spain -- Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets says only "losers" make excuses after Manchester City justified its Champions League loss to the Spanish champions through officiating error. City manager Manuel Pellegrini said referee Jonas Eriksson "decided the game" when he sent off Martin Demichelis before the hour mark of Barcelonas 2-0 first-leg away winn in the last 16.dddddddddddd Busquets says "referees make mistakes all the time, for and against you. But making excuses for why you lose is for losers." 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2019-02-21 03:07:34
   
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