Veteran Irish rugby commentator Michael Corcoran is well-known to New Zealand fans for his regular appearances on Radio Sport's The Devlin Show - but you may never have heard him as excited as in the final moments of Ireland's six nations match against France at the weekend.

Commentating for Irish radio station RTE, Corcoran goes completely nuts when Johnny Sexton executes a 42-meter drop-goal to win in the dying seconds of the match.

"France have been absolutely destroyed with the final kick of the game," Corcoran screams excitedly - listen below.

It may not have been as improbable as Zinzan Brooke's effort at the 1995 World Cup, as monstrous as Stephen Larkham's for Australia at Twickenham four years later, or as iconic as Jonny Wilkinson's in Sydney in 2003.


But if Ireland do go on to claim this Six Nations on St Patrick's Day at Twickenham in March – and they must feel destiny is on their side now – they will have Sexton to thank for an utterly outrageous 42-metre drop-goal in the final knockings of this mostly drab contest. It must go down as one of the finest ever struck.

A difficult week for the men in green, which had seen their captain Rory Best become embroiled in controversy after he chose to attend the trial for rape of his Ulster team-mates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, ended in scenes of pure ecstasy as Sexton nailed a monster effort in the 83rd minute to send Irish fans dancing off into the streets of Paris and the French crying into their Pastis.

What a finish. Ireland had been through 41 phases in the build-up to that extraordinary moment, with Sexton even putting in one daring cross-field kick for Keith Earls which might easily have handed possession back to France. Who dares wins.

Sexton has been a victim of this fixture in the past. Two years ago, during Ireland's 10-9 defeat, he limped off after repeated late tackles from the French and Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt had made a point in the build-up of drawing referee Nigel Owens's attention to that fact.

This time Sexton left the pitch basking in glory. At least he did after he had managed to extract himself from the bottom of an impromptu pile-up of his team mates.

"He hit one against the Scarlets to draw a match nine years ago and that was a cracker," Schmidt said afterwards, smiling. "And he hit one last year against France. So he has got a few [in his locker]. He just seized the moment. And that's a credit to Johnny. He was struggling a bit with cramp at the time. But his clarity of thought and ability to win those big moments is second to none."

It was an incredible finish but it should not completely gloss over what threatened to be a major controversy with France once again accused of manipulating the Head Injury Assessment protocols, just as they were in that infamous 100-minute match against Wales last year when they brought Rabah Slimani back on for Uini Atonio despite the latter appearing to have no idea why he was going off.

Twice in this game – firstly with an injury to teenage fly-half Matthieu Jalibert and later to Antoine Dupont – French players went off with what looked like knee injuries. Both times they were put down as HIA. Dupont's was particularly controversial as it brought Maxime Machenaud, a renowned kicker, back into the fray and ensured France did not have to play the remainder of the match without a specialist scrum half.


Sexton was clearly upset and was seen remonstrating with Nigel Owens, but the Welsh referee's hands were tied as he had been told – apparently by the independent match doctor – that it was HIA. Owens checked more than once.

Many pundits watching on were unconvinced. "Just because we won with an INCREDIBLE 42 METER drop goal that HIA decision shouldn't get swept under the carpet. It was nothing short of a disgrace!!!," tweeted former Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll.

At least it did not materially affect the outcome. Machenaud did not take the key penalty after 77 minutes which could have put France four points clear. Anthony Belleau did - and he missed it. The rest is history.

Schmidt was a relieved man at the finish. Ireland had dominated all the key statistics; possession, territory (both 68 per cent) and penalty count (10 to six). Yet they were heading for defeat until Sexton's late late show.

Schmidt said he was particularly frustrated as his team had made a good start. The Kiwi was widely ridiculed this time last year for complaining in the wake of Ireland's opening day defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield that the team bus had been late arriving at the stadium and implying that might have been a factor behind his team's slow start.

He had no cause for complaint this time. Ireland's bus arrived at the Stade de France bang on time, (though Schmidt did seem to clunk his head on an overhead locker getting off it) and Ireland were quickly out of the blocks, slick handling in the opening minute seeing the ball spun out wide to Jacob Stockdale. France strayed offside in the next phase and Sexton made no mistake from the tee.

How would the French respond? Never the most predictable of teams, they were even less so heading into this game. Les Bleus had a new head coach in Jacques Brunel and a 19 year-old debutant, Jalibert, at fly half. Unfortunately Jalibert – who had made a promising start – lasted just last half an hour before hobbling off following a clash of knees with Bundee Aki.

A poor game looked as if it would be decided by ill-discipline with Ireland edging into a 12-6 lead by midway through the second period. But after Sexton uncharacteristically hooked a relatively simple penalty, the French finally produced a moment of real magic, Teddy Thomas swerving past Rob Kearney and then inside Stockdale on an arcing run to the line. Belleau was left with a simple conversion to give France a 13-12 lead.

Ireland had lost control of the game and - after the HIA kerfuffle - France should have sewn it up with a penalty after 77 minutes. How costly that miss proved to be as Ireland worked their way back up the pitch, phase after phase, Sexton applying the final coup de grace as time stood still at the Stade de France.

Match details:

Scoring: 0-3 Sexton pen; 0-6 Sexton pen; 3-6 Machenaud pen; 3-9 Sexton pen; 3-12 Sexton pen; 6-12 Machenaud pen; 11-12 Thomas try; 13-12 Belleau con; 13-15 Sexton drop

France: G Palis; T Thomas, R Lamerat, H Chavancy, V Vakatawa; M Jalibert (A Belleau 29), M Machenaud (A Dupont 67); J Poirot (D Priso 55), G Guirado (A Pelissie 74), R Slimani (C Gomes Sa 55), A Iturria (P Gabrillagues 61), S Vahaamahina, W Lauret (M Tauleigne 67), K Gourdon.

Ireland: R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale (F McFadden 74); J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy (J McGrath 61), R Best (S Cronin 68), T Furlong (John Ryan 70); I Henderson, James Ryan (D Toner 68); P O'Mahony, J Van der Flier (D Leavy 36), CJ Stander.

Referee: N Owens (Wales)

Att: 74,878

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