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07th Mar 2023

Brian O’Driscoll on photo regret he had with his Manchester United hero

Patrick McCarry

“He had one job!”

On the same day Brian O’Driscoll was sitting down, at Old Belvedere Rugby Club, for a chat about exciting players and being a Mark Hughes fan-boy, Ireland’s next crop of Grand Slam chasers were training with Andy Farrell’s senior squad.

Richie Murphy’s Under 20 squad have had a few cracks off Farrell’s team as both sets of players seek to win Six Nations Grand Slams. Both are three wins from three in their respective championships and both face Scotland this weekend as they try go one better.

Having been called into his very first Ireland squad at the age of 19, back in early 1999, O’Driscoll knows that many of the young players that got training session run-outs against the senior side will have experienced that heady mix of excitement, nausea and awe at what they were faced with.

Asked about his first Ireland call-up, the nation’s leading Test try-scorer recalls one player that looked out for him, and another who’s lead he followed when getting free swag. He also spoke about getting a photo taken with his footballing hero, Mark Hughes.

Brian O'DriscollManchester United striker Mark Hughes gets past Gary McAllister of Leeds, in 1992. (Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images)

Brian O’Driscoll on photo regret with Man United hero

Brian O’Driscoll grew up supporting Manchester United and his footballing hero was former Wales striker Mark Hughes.

Through his sporting, charitable and business endeavours, over the years, the former Ireland captain got to meet some of the footballers he spent many years watching – Gary Neville, Brian McClair, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and more, as well as Alex Ferguson. He was most excited, he says, when he got the chance to meet Hughes.

“To be able to spend a bit of time and have some conversations… like, I was at a couple of events with Mark Hughes and that was pretty cool. I told a story (on McClair’s podcast) about being eager to get a picture with Mark.

“Kevin Moran took the picture, because he knows I was a big fan. It’s the worst photo I have ever seen – it’s totally blurred. He had one job, and he couldn’t get it done!”

Brian O'DriscollKevin Maggs, left, pictured with Brian O’Driscoll, in 2003. (Credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE)

Following Trevor Brennan’s lead

“I can remember that first squad get together, over in Galway,” Brian O’Driscoll tells us. “I was very scared.

“And it’s the small things you remember. I came down to dinner and I didn’t know where to sit or what the protocol is. There must have been this nervousness about me. Kevin Maggs, who was my centre partner for about 35, 40 caps, must have seen this as he called me over and said, ‘Come on over and sit down here with us’. Straight away, you were more at ease and comfortable.

“Particularly as a young guy, you’d have these worries – don’t know what I’m doing, why am I in here? To actually be in this Irish camp. But then you go out and train and that is a lot more natural. You’re in that environment that you feel is second nature to you. Whereas, you go into team meetings and the team-room and you don’t know what goes on, or what’s acceptable.”

O’Driscoll can clearly recall one early moment in the Ireland team room as a stack of merchandise was lined up on a table, making his young eyes light up. Veteran forward Trevor Brennan showed the Leinster centre how protocol worked on this one.

“I remember the first time I went into the team room, seeing Trevor Brennan. He had a bag open and he was just taking a load of Lucozade Sport [bottles] and dropping them into his bag.

“I was like, ‘Is he stealing those? What’s happening them?’ Someone saw me looking at it and told me I was allowed take all that stuff off to my room, if I want. I was like, ‘What, free Lucozade Sport? This is deadly!’

Fill yer boots, lads.

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