Monday, April 24, 2006

Munster, Munster, Munster

Wonderful result yesterday. Most of the "experts" had predicted a close match with Leinster winning in the end but no one seems to have told Munster that they were supposed to roll over and let Leinster through to the Heineken Cup final. From the first minute Munster were dominant and the final score line of Leinster 6 Munster 30 was a little bit flattering but not terribly unjust, the last try was something of a cave-in by Leinster once they realized that they could not catch Munster.

I didn’t have a ticket for the match, and to be honest while I am a Munster fan I know people who are much more fanatical about Munster than I am, like my brother, so if I had managed to get a ticket I would have probably passed it on to him if he had been without one. Still, as I have mentioned elsewhere, since I couldn’t get into Lansdowne Road I figured there was only one other place worth watching the match in Dublin. Kielys of Donnybrook, the epicenter of Leinster Rugby.

It was a bit of a gamble but I thought if Munster won it would be the place to be to watch the Leinster fans cry into their pints of "Ken". The flip side of that would be the slagging that would accompany a Munster loss as I cried into my pint of Carlsberg. Still, since Kielys is practically my local I decided I would chance it. From the moment I walked in and the barman spotted me in the mob waiting for beer I knew I was onto a winner, I was served straight away. Whether that was a nod towards my "regular" status or a desire to get my red Munster jersey away from the bar I'm not sure. I settled down at the bar in front of one of the screens and watched the pre-match analysis and the crowd.

Frank McNally wrote in today’s Irish Times:
Even before the match, Munster dominated them in most key areas. The visitors established numerical supremacy in Doheny & Nesbitt's, Searson's, and the Waterloo Inn. A flying column even penetrated Kiely's of Donnybrook - Leinster HQ - and was holding its own there as late as an hour before the game.

The local Leinster fans were fairly vocal in their support, cheering every shot of a Leinster jersey or flag and booing (in a friendly manner) Munster. However they did most of their cheering before the game started. As the game continued Munster applied the pressure but were never out of sight so the fans were pretty tense. I figured that maybe at best 10% of the crowd in Kielys were Munster fans, there was only a handful of Munster jerseys and the Munster fans were being strategically quiet when surrounded by Leinster fans. However when Ronan O'Gara sprinted over the line to score his try half the pub erupted and the other half sank into their seats. When the Trevor Halstead gave Munster their third try on 80 minutes it was like all the Leinster fans had left the bar and Munster had taken over. It was now Kielys of Limerick, not Kielys of Donnybrook.

In fairness the Leinster fans were magnanimous in defeat, admitting the better team won and wishing us all the best for the final. Munster will be representing the whole of Ireland in Cardiff on May 20th.

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