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statement Brian O'Driscoll's verdict as impressive Ireland storm to victory against Wales

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (right) celebrates after Garry Ringrose scores a try during the Six Nations match at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (right) celebrates after Garry Ringrose scores a try during the Six Nations match at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (right) celebrates after Garry Ringrose scores a try during the Six Nations match at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Ireland sent out a message of intent after a dominant opening day performance in the Six Nations Championship resulted in a comprehensive 29-7 bonus-point victory over defending champions Wales in Dublin.

Roared on by a capacity crowd, the Irish convincingly stretched their winning run to nine games following Bundee Aki’s early try, a second-half brace from Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose’s solo score.

Outclassed Wales arrived at the Aviva Stadium devoid of a host of injured star names and were dominated from start to finish on a torrid afternoon.

Only a late converted try from tournament debutant Taine Basham prevented them being nilled in the championship for the first time.

Having gone through a transitional phase under head coach Andy Farrell, 2018 Grand Slam champions Ireland are beginning to look the real deal again after an outstanding autumn, which included glory against New Zealand.

Captain Johnny Sexton added nine points with his boot to complete a one-sided scoreline on a blustery, grey afternoon.

"Against the reigning champions to come away with five points, I would have snapped your hand off," said Sexton.

"It's never going to be perfect in the first game. We've got lots to improve but it's great to do that after a win,

"We've got everything to play for and we can build momentum now. We're going to have to be at our best to win in Paris [next week]."

It was a performance that inspired former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll to suggest Ireland have a real chance to trouble France when they travel to Paris next weekend.

"Ireland's defence was exceptional, their spacing was phenomenal, their competing in rucks was exceptional," O'Driscoll told ITV Sport.

"That has been a big difference with this Ireland team over the last six months and they have to build on this now when they go to Paris next weekend.

"France and Ireland are the two teams that beat New Zealand in November and the manner France beat them by was so impressive.

"Ireland have a mixed bag of results in Paris over recent years. They won their with that drop goal from Johnny Sexton when they last won the Grand Slam in 2018. Then they got beaten up two years ago.

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"Yet they don't go over there fearful now. If they compete like they did against Wales today, they will take a lot of stopping."

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