Calm Before The Storm
Calm Before The Storm
5 May 2009, 8:59 pm
By Chris Byrne
"Every bit as busy as an All Ireland," is how Iarnroid Eireann Business Development Manager Andrew Roche, who accompanied the squad on their journey, compared his company's workload this weekend as they ferried thousands of Munster rugby supporters to Dublin for the Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Leinster.
The Iarnroid Eireann operation to ferry fans from the south today began with a 5.05am service from Cork and there will be 10 more trains between then and the final one, the 13.30 service form Cork.

Yesterday afternoon the Munster squad were greeted by several hundred Munster of those supporters on their arrival and the squad travelled straight from Heuston Station to Croke Park where captain Paul O'Connell faced the media for the last time before the kick off with the Munster skipper acknowledging that the clash with Munster will be close. " Anything can happen in a one-off game and our matches against Leinster are probably some of the tightest we play each year. Leinster have been improving in recent times and it promises to be a fabulous occasion, for players, fans and the TV audience." he said.

Dealing with the lead-in to the game and the attendant media attention, O'Connell continued, "There has been a lot of hype and a lot of pressure this week but pressure make you perform and this is the sort of game you want to play in. There is tremendous experience throughout our squad and many of us have had a lot of big games with Munster and Ireland so the build up has not been as difficult as when we were younger."

When Munster arrived at the match venue they were greeted by the sight of Munster Finance Manager Philip Quinn, his wife Susan and Munster Event Manager Trish Drinan, dashing through the stands carefully distributing Munster flags in the sections allocated to Munster supporters.

And as Munster limbered up on the immaculate green carpet below, O'Connell said, "Croke Park is a fabulous place to play and we have had some great games here with Ireland so it is superb that we are now having a game of such importance at the ground. The atmosphere is going to be incredible.

Remembering previous occasions he added, "In 2006, in the semi-final and final, and the 2008 final it was sensational and I think this match will be right up there again."

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, I Dowling; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell capt, A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy. Replacements: D Fogarty, T Buckley, M O'Driscoll, N Ronan, M Prendergast, B Murphy, Denis Hurley

Leinster: I Nacewa; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; F Contepomi, C Whitaker; C Healy, B Jackman, S Wright, L Cullen capt, M O'Kelly, R Elsom, S Jennings, J Heaslip. Replacements: J Fogarty, R McCormack, D Toner, S O'Brien, S Keogh, J Sexton, G Dempsey
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

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