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1938 v 2009 comparison

Updated: Tuesday, 17 Mar 2009 15:28

Brian O'Driscoll will this week be pondering winning Ireland's second Grand Slam
Brian O'Driscoll will this week be pondering winning Ireland's second Grand Slam

With Ireland travelling to Wales on Saturday looking to claim their first grand slam since 1948, how do the two years compare.

THE IRISH TEAM

Led by their talismanic skipper Brian O'Driscoll, the Ireland of 2009 have put together an unbeaten run which started with a magnificent win over France, progressed with a comfortable defeat of Italy, held firm with a nervy 13-12 victory over England and was kept alive with a hard-fought win in Scotland to set up Saturday's nail-biting finale.

The parallels between this year's campaign and the 1948 vintage are certainly encouraging.

Fans looking for positive omens should note that that grand slam, inspired by legendary fly-half Jack Kyle, was completed after an impressive win against France, a defeat of England by a single point and victory in Scotland before a final showdown with Wales, which the Irish won 6-3.

Karl Mullen, the captain at the time, said: ‘We were first to the breakdown, first to the lineout and we were first to the scrum almost before the referee had blown his whistle.

O'Driscoll will be looking for something similar from his Irish team on Saturday as the current incarnation bids to emulate the champions of 1948.

OTHER IRISH SPORT

Along with Ireland's famous grand slam triumph, 1948 was also the year of the London Olympics, where the Republic of Ireland failed to win a single medal and were barred from competing in several events due to a dispute between rival athletics bodies.

Last year in Beijing, Irish athletes won a silver and two bronze medals in the boxing while Northern Ireland's Wendy Houvenaghel won a silver as part of Britain's cycling team.

Irish soccer was dominated by teams who no longer exist. In Northern Ireland, Belfast Celtic won the 1948 league, only to permanently withdraw from competitive football the following season.

The champions in the Republic of Ireland were Drumcondra, who merged with Home Farm FC in the 1970s.

There is, however, an intriguing similarity in English football, where John O'Shea and Jonny Evans currently lend an Irish presence to the Manchester United side gunning for a silverware quintuple.

In 1948 the Red Devils - captained by Irishman Johnny Carey - were also in the hunt for all available honours, defeating Blackpool in the FA Cup final but denied a domestic double by Arsenal, who pipped them to first place in the league.

PRICES

The amateur Irish team of 1948 could only dream of the sizeable salaries enjoyed by the fully paid-up professionals who will line up at Cardiff and while more profitable to play, the sport has also become more expensive to watch.

It may pain some of the Irish faithful who will be parting with up to £70 at the Millennium Stadium for their ticket and match-day programme to know that they could have got in for 10 shillings in 1948 with a programme thrown in for an additional thruppence.
And whether the Guinness will be quaffed in celebration or to drown Irish sorrows at the weekend, it will cost punters an average of £2.58 per pint, where their predecessors could toast the success of 1948 with pints of the black stuff costing just over a shilling each.