Irish Head Coach Andy Farrell has praised 8-year-old Stevie Mulrooney for his rendition of Ireland's Call in the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Irish team played their first game in Ireland since beating England before the Rugby World Cup. Pre-match ceremonies began as usual, with Michael D. Higgins meeting the Italian and Irish players before kick-off.
Shortly after, the Italian national anthem "Il Canto degli Italiani" by Jennifer Dalton from the gospel choir ‘Anthem Singers was sung, but the moment belonged to young Stevie Mulrooney.
The 8-year-old, who sang Phil Coulter's famous song "Ireland's Call" on the Late, Late Toy Show before Christmas, gave another powerful, pitch-perfect vocal display in front of a packed Aviva Stadium.
The clip of Stevie singing Ireland's rugby anthem received huge praise from fans on social media. "He absolutely nailed it! What a boy!" said one user on X. While another said, "What a performance from Stevie! It made me so emotional. I don't think I've ever seen Ireland's Call performed as passionately."
Ireland then went on to beat the Italian team 36-0 in what was a routine win. Tries from Dan Sheehan (2), Calvin Nash, James Lowe, and Jack Conan, and kicking duties from Jack Crowley, ensured that Ireland's quest for a second Grand Slam in two years remains intact.
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However, the day belonged to young Stevie Mulrooney, and Andy Farrell praised the 8-year-old for singing, claiming he "nailed it."
“Oh wow. I tell you, I was actually saying before the game, I was just watching him the whole time,” said Farrell after the game.
“I didn’t know whether he was standing with his mother or not, but when I realised the other lady (Dalton) was not his mother and was singing the national anthem for the Italians, his confidence was amazing, and I actually thought, ‘I wish our lads were going to be like that’.
“He’s got his shoulders back; he was ready.
“He was waving to the crowd and stood there on his own. I thought, ‘This kid’s got it all’.
“He was amazing. He nailed it, didn’t he? It was a great start.”
Ireland's next game will be against Wales on February 24 in Dublin.