Six Nations 2014: Brian O'Driscoll elated by perfect Ireland finale
Brian O'Driscoll struggled to contain his emotions as his remarkable international career ended with Ireland clinching the Six Nations title after a thrilling 22-20 victory over France.
"It's exactly as I would have wanted," said the 35-year-old after Ireland held on despite a late French onslaught.
"It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner. We have had so many second places down through the years.
"It's great to finish on a high in my last game in this magnificent jersey."
Irish sporting icon O'Driscoll, who was making his 141st and last Test appearance, even got a mention from US President Barack Obama at a reception in Washington on Friday ahead of Monday's St Patrick's Day festivities.
"Someone must have handed him a piece of paper and told him to 'read below'," joked O'Driscoll, who is retiring at the end of the season with Leinster.
"It's a magnificent feeling. When it properly sinks in tomorrow when we get home and I'm able to reflect upon it, I'm sure there will be a few tears.
"There were a few tears earlier on when [coach] Joe [Schmidt] gave his team talk. It was quite emotional."
O'Driscoll added that the frantic pace and intensity of Saturday's pulsating encounter told him why he had taken the decision to end his Ireland career.
"It was last-leg stuff and I know now why I'm packing it in because 80 minutes is a long bloody time at international level, particularly with guys like Mathieu Bastareaud running at you - it's no fun."
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was delighted he and his team could give O'Driscoll the perfect send-off.
"It's fantastic for Ireland, for the people back home but also for Brian and his family," he said after leading Ireland to just a second win in 42 years in Paris.
"To be part of the team that laid the platform for him to have a great finish to his career is great for everyone involved."
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt
“The fairytale continued right to the end for the magic man [O'Driscoll] and I'm just delighted for him”
Amid unbearable tension with less than 90 seconds left, the Irish had to wait on referee Steve Walsh's adjudication whether Vincent Debaty's pass had gone forward to Damien Chouly before the number eight touched down.
O'Connell said he was certain that it had been a forward pass after having a good view of the incident "but sometimes those decisions go against you".
The captain confessed that the Irish had been guilty of seeing the finish line a little early as they allowed France to dominate in the frantic closing stages.
"We tried to stop winning the game and that's a dangerous game to play," he said. "Luckily we held on. We were probably lucky at the end with the forward pass but we did score the three tries."
Ireland coach Schmidt was overjoyed as his team secured Ireland's first Six Nations triumph since the 2009 Grand Slam.
"The fairytale continued right to the end for the magic man [O'Driscoll] and I'm just delighted for him," he said.
"It's unbearable, I'm not sure I can last too long doing this job. The heart just about gave up.
"We've shown incredible discipline right through the tournament and I think it was a credit to the players today that they maintained their discipline right to the finish."
France coach Phillipe Saint-Andre admitted his devastation after watching his side fall short.
"Sometimes it's better to win ugly than to have lost like this," he said.
"Congratulations to Ireland, they played well but I think our young team did very well. If we had a little bit more of the control we should have won."