Wednesday, August 24, 2022

IT was a special occasion for Dannah O’Brien’s family on Saturday when her parents and five brothers gathered in the living room of their family home to watch her make her senior rugby international debut against Japan in the Escopa Stadium, Fukuroi City, Shizuoka. Michael and Bríd O’Brien were joined by their five sons, Mike, Matthew, Adam, Rhian and Robert to watch their daughter score six conversions as Ireland beat Japan 57-22.

There were anxious moments at the start of the game when the coverage went and they had to follow the fortunes of the Irish team on social media. It was looking bleak when Japan took a 15-0 lead but as the coverage returned Ireland mauled over for a try and the comeback was on.

“When we didn’t have coverage, we were checking the scores on Twitter. After they had been 15 points down we were just surprised and delighted to see them turn it around,” said Bríd.

By half-time, Ireland led 19-15 and their superior physical strength saw them pull away to win 57-22. Bríd was reluctant to centre on the achievements of their own daughter and preferred to look at the overall picture.

“We are just happy that, after all these years of playing rugby, that she has got to represent her country and we are extremely happy for the entire team and management that they had such a great result,” she said.

Dannah O’Brien kicks a conversion during Ireland’s win over Japan
Photo: ©INPHO/Akito Iwamoto

Dannah’s father, Michael, played football with Kilbride before he retired while their oldest son, Mike, first started to play rugby with Tullow when he was seven years of age.

“So when she hit seven, she started playing and it all followed on from there. All with Tullow,” explained Bríd who is from County Wicklow herself but they have been living in Kilbride for 20 years now.

Ireland have a second test in Chichibunomiya in Central Tokyo on Saturday next at 11am Irish time. Despite doing so well in the first test no-one in Kilbride is taking anything for granted that the 18 year old Dannah is looking at automatic selection.

“We are just waiting to see the panel and what the team is when it is named. Whether she gets a second chance?,” confessed Bríd.

At this stage, Dannah’s family cannot wait to see her.

“It seems as if she is gone a long time. She has been in camp and was away for a week before she left for Japan. We haven’t seen her. They are due back this day week (Monday) and we won’t have seen her for three weeks. We are just happy she is getting somewhere now after all the years of driving and training. Hopefully it will keep going well for her and the team.”

Dannah spoke to after the game and spoke about her delight on making her senior international debut.

“It is unbelievable, something I have been dreaming about all my life. I’m very thankful that it turned out to be a good result but we have so much to work on and I can’t wait to get back to the grind and come again next week,” she said.

Travelling so far away from Ireland, Dannah, an 18-year-old who did her Leaving Cert this summer, was worried that should would miss her family but has been made feel right at home by the rest of the squad.

It’s been ten out of ten. The girls are a different type of family. I thought I would be missing home but they are just a family away from home. They are an unbelievable group,” she said.

A view of Dannah O’Brien’s jersey ahead of her first senior international appearance
Photo: ©INPHO/Akito Iwamoto

Thoughts have already turned to the second test on Saturday and Dannah will find out whether she has made the starting XV when the team is announced on Thursday morning. She admitted to nerves at the beginning of the game before growing into it and would love another opportunity.

“I was definitely nervous at the start but I grew into the game, I still have a lot to work on but I can’t wait to get back to it again,”

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