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Paul O'Connell (born 20 October 1979 in Limerickmarker

) is an Irishmarker rugby union player who plays lock for Munster and Ireland.

O'Connell made his debut for Ireland against Wales in the Six Nations 2002, scoring a try. He was a part of Ireland's Rugby World Cup 2003 squad, and, in the first game of the Six Nations 2004, against France, he was stand-in captain for the injured Brian O'Driscoll. He toured with the 2005 British and Irish Lions to New Zealand, where he was one of only two Lions players to play every minute of all three Test matches, bar the 10 minutes he spent in the sin-bin. After a period of absence due to injury in the early part of the 2005-06 season, O'Connell returned to the Munster side to play an integral part in his side's march to its first Heineken Cup final since 2002, and also helped Ireland win the Triple Crown captaining the sides which played France & Scotland.

O'Connell in action for Ireland

In November 2006 he was among five shortlisted for the International Rugby Board player of the year and the only northern hemisphere nominee. The other four nominees were New Zealand fly half / out half Dan Carter, fellow All Black openside flanker Richie McCaw, Australian fullback Chris Latham and South African scrum half Fourie du Preez. McCaw was the eventual winner.

O'Connell was a star swimmer when he was younger, starting his training with Seal Swimming club under the watchful guidance of Jim Riordan and Jerry Ryan before moving on to the Limerick squad. O'Connell attended Ardscoil Rísmarker in Limerick and played rugby under Des Harty's tutelage, representing Irish Schools in 1997-98. He also represented Young Munster R.F.C. before moving on to represent Munster, Ireland and the Lions. He recently scored the last ever international try at the Old Lansdowne Roadmarker, which is being demolished and rebuilt.

More recently, O'Connell again took over from an injured O'Driscoll as Ireland captain in their historic match against in the 2007 Six Nations, the first rugby match ever at Croke Parkmarker. O'Connell was awarded the Man of the Match accolade following Ireland's historic (and record breaking) 43-13 win over England at Croke Parkmarker during the Six Nations Championship. He also captained Munster to victory in the 2007-08 Heineken Cup.As of 3rd Feb '09, he has played 43+3 times for Munster in the Heineken Cup, scoring 10 tries.

He was a member of the victorious Ireland team that won the 2009 Six Nations Championship and Grand Slam

On 21 April 2009, O'Connell was named as the British and Irish Lions Captain for the 2009 tour to South Africa.


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