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Irish Rugby great O’Connell to preach 'shoulder to shoulder' to Euros

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CHASKA, Minn. – European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is adopting Irish rugby’s “shoulder to shoulder” theme as his team’s credo this week.

Clarke, born and raised in Northern Ireland, is also bringing in retired Irish Rugby great Paul O’Connell to speak to his team Tuesday night with that theme in mind.

The “shoulder to shoulder” concept is the theme to the song “Ireland’s Call,” which the Irish Rugby Football Union commissions for use at its games.

A sampling of the lyrics:

Ireland, Ireland

Together standing tall!

Shoulder to shoulder,

We’ll answer Ireland’s Call!

O’Connell was captain of Ireland’s Six Nations champions in 2014 and ’15  and a key member of Irish Rugby’s “golden generation” of champs in 2009.

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“Part of my whole thought process for this week is shoulder to shoulder, one team, one unit,” Clarke said. “As you know, shoulder to shoulder, with the rugby background that I have, it resonated with me. It was something that I pursued through my captaincy.

“There's no finer an example of shoulder to shoulder than Paul O'Connell. He has legendary status both at home and in terms of leading the British Lions, who obviously always play away from home. So with us being away from home, he was my option and choice to come and address the team this evening. I'm very excited to hear what he has to say and the way that he's going to put his thoughts across.”

European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley recruited the aid of Sir Alex Ferguson when the Euros defeated the Americans at Gleneagles two years ago. Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, is revered as one of soccer’s great coaches.