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Dan the man Dan Sheehan seems to echo Keith Wood in Scotland showdown

Wood retired as one of Irish rugby's most iconic figures courtesy of some of the most impressive performances by a hooker since Julia Roberts starred in Pretty Woman.

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Scotland's Stuart Hogg is tackled by the star of the show, Ireland's Dan Sheehan. Photo: Sportsfile

Scotland's Stuart Hogg is tackled by the star of the show, Ireland's Dan Sheehan. Photo: Sportsfile

Scotland's Stuart Hogg is tackled by the star of the show, Ireland's Dan Sheehan. Photo: Sportsfile

DAN Sheehan speeds around a rectangle of grass like a supersized version of the beloved old fizz-bomb Keith Wood.

As with Wood, Sheehan seems to breach the Trade Description Act each time he pulls on a rugby shirt.

Here is a front row who combines a winger's zip with the footwork and ball-carrying dynamism of a Ringrose or Henshaw.

Watching Sheehan accelerate and step and do things few players in his position can is to assume he must have an incorrect number tattooed onto the back of his shirt.

Each time the ball arrives in his airspace, his first inclination is to hit the afterburners and dance.

It is as striking as a tuxedoed La Scala tenor channelling his inner Ozzy Osbourne and startling the opera house by morphing into Black Sabbath's wizened Prince of Darkness.

Wood retired as one of Irish rugby's most iconic figures courtesy of some of the most impressive performances by a hooker since Julia Roberts starred in Pretty Woman.

Sheehan has yet to arrive at that level - and might even find supporters of the impeccably polished Hugo Keenan dispute his Man of the Match award - but here was an indication of the elephantine 23-year-old's thrilling potential.

Scoring one try, bulldozing the opening to facilitate a second for Cian Healy, the Leinster number two ensured that Ireland fulfilled their side of the Super Saturday bargain.

The standing ovation when he was called ashore in the final quarter, and the lusty roar of approval when his Man-of-the-Match award was announced over the stadium's public address, spoke eloquently of his influential contribution.

Josh van der Flier is another climbing the rungs of the international game, the familiar scarlet scrumcap rarely far from the epicentre of the action.

He delivered the third try, the one that established a Triple Crown securing 21-5 advantage, eliminating the unthinkable - that Ireland might hand France the title before a ball was kicked in Paris - from the narrative.

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The euphoric reaction to Conor Murray's spinning over for a late fourth try illustrated the perception that the bonus point could be important in keeping France honest later in the Parisian cauldron.

Scotland's preparations had been ransacked by a disciplinary breach, senior players ignoring a management curfew in favour of an unsanctioned night on the tiles.

It spoke of a breakdown in trust between coach Gregor Townend and captain Stuart Hogg, of a team in disarray.

And yet the visitors were the more animated side in the opening exchanges, both Darcy Graham and Pierre Schoeman exploiting gaps, with Hogg himself oozing trademark unorthodox menace.

From an Irish perspective, those initial salvos offered the latest reminder of Keenan's development into an authentic elite-level international talent.

One moment, he was confidently defusing a dangerous aerial missile, the next he was the unflappable roadblock halting Graham's turbo-powered surge.

Panic is apparently not a word in the Keenan vocabularly.

His consistency over the past year has ensured what might have been a nervy post-Rob Kearney transition period at full-back has instead remained a position of strength. Keenan's second-half try-line tackle on Hogg, perhaps the afternoon's outstanding individual intervention, will have further boosted his soaring share price.

Any ballot on Ireland's player of the tournament would undoubtedly have the cultured Dubliner close to topping the poll.

If Scotland flickered with early indignation, it was soon apparent which team have the more realistic ambitions of pursuing some of the game's great prizes.

Where the visitors huffed and puffed, Ireland blew the Caledonian house down.

Sheehan was a central figure in a ten-minute, 14-point haul that planted a green flag on the Aviva mountain. For a hooker, Sheehan has unassailable belief in his mobility and athleticism - an XXL version of the old Munster locomotive, Wood.

His fearsome horsepower saw him open the scoring - surging through Blair Kinghorn after Iain Henderson, king of the skies for most of the afternoon, had gathered Sheehan's on the money line-out.

When another burst from 17-stone mammoth set up Irish Methuselah, Cian Healy, for his tenth international try, giddy tunes of glory whistled around the arena.

With that double-strike Paul O'Connell, the inestimable former national captain turned forwards coach, had more than justified his weekly pay packet.

Less than half an hour in and it seemed that the Triple Crown was a done deal, that the green masses could conserve energy for the unusual later task of heartily cheering on an English national side.

Scotland, to their credit, would quickly rebuke notions that the contest had arrived at a point of no return. Schoeman, a colossal South African who was happy to don a kilt, scored the third close-in touchdown of the day. Ireland would take a reduced nine point lead into the break - before establishing a decisive foothold.

If the performance was sloppily imperfect by the standards they demand of themselves, Andy Farrell will regard a Triple Crown, and fourth bonus point win from five, as an achievement worthy of commemoration.

Glass half-empty cynics might regard full time celebrations - for what at that moment was no more than a second-placed finish in a six-team tournament - as straying dangerously into the territory of hype.

But the first silverware Ireland had secured on home soil for fully 18 years sent the audience away high on the cheery, and beery, fumes of a St Patrick's weekend.

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