Sexton inspired by sporting history
May 22, 2011
Leinster fly-half Jonny Sexton touches down for one of his two tries at the Millennium Stadium © Getty Images
Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton has revealed that Liverpool's Champions League Final triumph in 2005 was the inspiration behind his side's incredible 33-22 victory over Northampton in Saturday's Heineken Cup Final.
Sexton's 28-point haul was the driving force behind the Irish province's second European triumph that looked highly unlikely as they slipped to a 22-6 half-time lead in the face of a dominant Saints side. But the 25-year-old Sexton refused to concede defeat and rallied his team-mates with the memory of Liverpool's dramatic victory over AC Milan in Istanbul where they recovered from 3-0 down to eventually triumph on penalties.
"We were shellshocked and needed leaders," said Sexton. "I said comebacks happen in finals - I knew we could come back. I watch a lot of sport and that Liverpool game just stuck in my mind for some reason.
"It felt it was gone when they got that third try, that everything we had done to get out of the pool and get to the final was down the drain. We were shellshocked and needed half-time. We regrouped. We had to believe and we took our chances. We have leaders who stood up in the second half. When a team gets a score and gets the momentum going it is hard to stop. It was like a snowball effect."
Sexton's impact on the side in the changing room and on the field was hailed by centre Brian O'Driscoll who described him as "a man possessed". "We had some choice words at half-time and he was phenomenal in the dressing room, he was a man possessed," recalled the Ireland captain.
"He mentioned about making it all the more memorable because of what we had to do from 22-6 behind. You could see he had the bit between his teeth and he was ready for it. To pick up two tries, produce a great kicking performance and just control the way he did, it was a phenomenal second-half performance by him. He really stood up to the plate. You need your 10 to be a senior player and a leader, and he was very much that for us. He was a man possessed."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery