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Cardiff 2002 - Diary Of A Munster Supporter.
5 May 2006, 4:04 pm
A look back at the travails of a Munster traveller to the the final in Cardiff in 2002.

Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th May. 2002

4.00am Wake up.

4.30am Taxi to Cork Airport.

5.00am Arrive at Cork Airport as requested.

7.10am Depart for Cardiff.

8.00am Arrive Cardiff Airport.

8.15am Bus to Cardiff.

9.00am Breakfast in Cardiff.

11.15am Great Session in Molly Flynn s Pub.

2.00pm Proceed to Stadium

3.00pm Kick-Off

3.40pm Half-Time (so far so good )

4.40pm Full-Time ( Heart-break, serious counselling required )

5.30pm Still stuck to our seats, not a word has been spoken among us.

6.00pm Finally leave the Stadium, sad, annoyed at Neil Back and wanting to go home.

At this stage we knew we had a long wait to fly out at 11.30pm.

7.00pm Meal in a lovely Italian Restaurant (DaVinci s). Nobody in the mood for lots of drink.

A few bottles of beer only.

8.00pm Wander the streets meeting various supporters and having the craic. Very tired now but 11.30 in getting closer.

9.30pm Bus leaves the Millenium Stadium for the Airport.

10.00pm Arrive Airport Car Park. Told to remain in the Bus. We remained ..for a while. Bus Driver told us that the security services had directed him to the Car park and away from the Terminal as they could not cope with the crowds arriving. Said that we could walk in the rain to the terminal if we wanted. And we wanted.

10.30pm Into the Terminal Building. Unbelievable chaos. Like what I read about the last days in Saigon Airport following the TET offensive. 1000 s of Munster people everywhere. The three levels of the Airport were covered with red shirts. At this stage we knew we were in deep trouble.

10.45pm Meet with our travel representative (one of the few that hung around) who told us that our flight was going to be late and very late at that. We could see that they were under pressure. Estimated time of departure at this stage was now approx 2.30am. I contacted my travelling buddies (10 in all) and we went upstairs to settle down in a corner and get some sleep. This we achieved and to some extent we were contented to wait.

12.30am. Call came to board our flight to Cork. Must be a mistake. Checked the flight number. No mistake. Delighted with the news we headed downstairs to the departure lounge. The queue through the security check was back to meet us coming down the stairs. The information desk informed us that they had called the wrong flight number. We were starting to get annoyed now particularly as we had managed to settle down and get some sleep. I contacted the travel representative again and he told me that the flight would not be leaving until at least 5.00am. He said that the flight called was in fact our plane but that it was bringing another group back to Dublin first before returning to pick us up. I saw it on the runway so near and yet so far.

1.00am We tried to stay calm and decided to go back upstairs again and reclaim our positions. It was going to be difficult to get back to sleep. We got free newspapers and read the Roy Keane story in full. Unbelievably we drifted back to sleep.

2.00am Boarding call for Flight LUXxxxx to Cork. One of the lads heard it and woke the rest of us. The call was repeated and this time I heard it myself. I said no that our plane was in Dublin. A group decision was made and we decided to go down to departures as instructed. The queue was up the stairs to meet us again. Two other flights were called at the same time and all were trying to get through security.

Question 1 Why was there such tight security. We were Munster not Millwall?

Question 2 Why was only one security gate manned?

Question 3 Why was the plane that took us from Cork to Cardiff also taking passengers from Dublin to Cardiff?

Question 4 Were the Travel Agents trying to get too much out of it?

This was the straw that broke the camels back. We got very annoyed and very angry. The information desk (with three women behind it ) was surrounded by angry Munster fans. They were calling us to board a plane that was in Dublin. We asked the girl if the plane was there. She didn t know. When pressed again somebody else said that no, it wasn t. We asked why we were told to board. She said that she was told to call us. We asked who gave the instruction. She said the duty manager. We asked to speak to the duty manager. She said that he was off-duty. Yes this is all true. The Airport Management was totally incompetent. There was nobody to tell us what was going on. We were being treated like sheep. I can only say that Munster Rugby fans should be proud of the way they reacted. If it was anybody else there would have been a riot.

2.30am Back up stairs again. There was no way we were going back to sleep now. We talked, some people sang, some drifted into the security area, some fell asleep where they lay and time moved on slowly.

3.30am We moved down to the security area as the crowd was starting to thin out. I got to within 10 people of the security check when I was hit by a dose of the runs (too many airport sandwiches) and had to flee back to the toilets. On returning to the security area it was full again and I had to join the queue at the back with people going on a holiday trip. The hall way was humid and crowded with no windows open and no air-conditioning on. Some people had passed out along the way and slept where they lay. One guy was leaning up against the wall asleep. I knew him, woke him up and we moved on.

4.45am One security gate only in operation. Second one not in use. Armed Police on standby (for what?) but not helping to speed up the queue. Finally through the security check where I had to put everything into a grey box including jackets, hats, coins, watches etc etc. Met up with the lads again and waited. We were getting good at waiting.

5.30am Departed for Cork.

6.30am Arrive Cork Airport. Walked straight off plane into foyer. Home at last.

Question 5 If such rigid security was required in Cardiff why was there no need it Cork?

6.45am No Taxi s at the Taxi rank. A minor inconvenience at that stage.

7.00am A friend phoned home to ask his wife to collect us.

7.30am She arrived

8.00am Home.

RESULT

Stress

Lack of Sleep

Anger

Chest Infection

Additional counselling required.

Missed Sunday (slept until 8.00am Monday morning) and the hurling match.

Solution

No more Charter day trips

Sue the Travel Agents (those that abandoned ship), Charter Companies and the Airport (at least get our 40 airport tax back)

Not an Option

Follow another team

MUNSTER ABU

John Aherne

Mourneabbey
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