26 May, 20:35
Interim Ireland head coach Les Kiss has confirmed that back rower Peter O'Mahony will captain the squad for the summer tour to North America, following Rory Best's call-up to the British & Irish Lions squad.
LEINSTER 19 LEICESTER TIGERS 16, Murrayfield
Scorers: Leinster: Try: Jamie Heaslip; Con: Jonathan Sexton; Pens: Jonathan Sexton 2; Drops: Brian O'Driscoll, Jonathan Sexton
Leicester Tigers: Try: Ben Woods; Con: Julien Dupuy; Pens: Julien Dupuy 3
So Leinster reach the promised land in their first European final. As captain Leo Cullen said afterwards, it was far from pretty but Michael Cheika and his players will not mind one iota - the trophy remains in Irish hands and has a new home in Dublin.
The super-charged Blues had the better of this hard-fought Anglo-Irish clash but were forced to stage a superb fightback after falling 16-9 behind shortly after half-time.
A Ben Woods try had given Leicester an interval lead, but Jamie Heaslip's brilliant score helped level matters before the excellent Jonathan Sexton, who stepped into Felipe Contepomi's boots with great aplomb, sealed victory with a long range penalty.
Sexton also dropped a monster drop goal, the ever-influential Brian O'Driscoll dropped a goal as well, while Julien Dupuy kicked the Tigers' other points.
History was on the minds of both teams before kick-off.
The Tigers were looking to join Toulouse as the most successful side in the competition's 14 years by clinching their third European title, while Leinster were seeking their maiden triumph.
Both upset the odds by dumping out Cardiff and Munster in two incredible semi-finals and the bookmakers were unable to separate them before the off.
As well as boasting superior big-game experience, Leicester were certainly the form side, with last weekend's nervy Guinness Premiership final win their 12th victory in 13 games.
Yet Leinster had the edge in terms of support, with the Murrayfield stands overwhelmed by a sea of blue flags and replica shirts.
The controlled ferocity which had seen off Munster was in evidence from the kick-off but some ill-disciplined play from Shane Jennings, a former favourite at Welford Road, gave Leicester the first kickable penalty.
However, Dupuy was off target from 50 metres.
It was Leinster who got the first points on the board when a chip-and-chase from Luke Fitzgerald saw the ball spilled, eventually leading to a smart drop goal from O'Driscoll.
But the Tigers immediately roared back, twice breaking the gain line before being awarded a penalty Dupuy comfortably slotted between the posts.
Leicester were proving more than a match for their opponents at the breakdown but fell behind again when Sexton landed a superb drop goal from the halfway line.
It could have been worse for the Tigers moments later but for some heroic last-ditch defending under their own posts off the back of a well-worked Leinster lineout.
Suddenly, Leicester could not get the ball and after a succession of phases from their opponents, they eventually conceded a penalty inside their own 22. Sexton converted.
The St. Mary's College clubman was only playing because of an injury to Contepomi but the 23-year-old was providing a kicking masterclass.
Leicester, meanwhile, were struggling to retain possession and lost number 8 Jordan Crane to injury before the half-hour.
Louis Deacon came on and that prompted an immediate upturn in the Tigers' fortunes, with Leinster prop Stan Wright sin-binned for an illegal tackle on Sam Vesty. Dupuy kicked the penalty.
The Irish side sacrificed openside flanker Jennings for Ronan McCormack.
Leicester used all their experience to make the extra man tell two minutes before the interval.
Their most sustained spell of possession of the half eventually saw Woods burst clear inside the Irish 22 and retain enough momentum to touch down. Dupuy converted.
Leicester stretched their lead to seven points shortly after the break when Cian Healy infringed and Dupuy kicked another penalty, before Tigers captain Geordan Murphy injured his leg and was withdrawn for Matt Smith.
Leinster stopped the rot in superb fashion, putting together 11 phases of possession to break the will of their opponents, with Heaslip eventually stretching over. Sexton converted and it was suddenly 16-16.
Moments later in this topsy-turvy game, the Leinster number 10 had the chance to boot his side back in front with a 42-metre penalty but he scuffed his effort.
Leicester introduced Julian White for Martin Castrogiovanni and Benjamin Kayser for George Chuter in the front row, while Leinster withdrew hooker Bernard Jackman for John Fogarty.
On the hour mark, the Tigers brought on Lewis Moody for Woods.
There was a brief scare for the Lions when the talismanic O'Driscoll went down with an injured shoulder and, although he was soon back on his feet, he continued to look in some discomfort.
After such an intense hour, both sides began to tire, with play concentrated in the middle third of the field.
But when Leicester infringed at the breakdown 30 metres from goal, Sexton ended the stalemate with his second successful penalty of the afternoon.
Leinster were further encouraged by some uncharacteristic errors from their opponents.
With time running out, Leicester threw on Harry Ellis for Dupuy but to no avail as a blue wave soon enveloped the home of Scottish rugby in celebration, roaring their approval as referee Nigel Owens blew for full-time.
Having defeated Edinburgh (twice), Castres Olympique, Harlequins and no less than three two-time Heineken Cup champions in London Wasps, Munster and Leicester Tigers, Leinster can rightfully claim to be the best club side in Europe.
Fittingly, former Wallaby scrum half Chris Whitaker joined Cullen to lift the trophy for Leinster.
His Australian colleague Rocky Elsom, who was the man-of-the-match after yet another immense performance, was awestruck as he savoured the moment.
Young prop Cian Healy, having enhanced his reputation once again on the European stage, was heroic in defence and the set piece.
The delight was obvious for O'Driscoll and company, and especially so for Leinster's most-capped player Malcolm O'Kelly who has played his heart out for the province since 1995.
His 161st competitive game for Leinster and undoubtedly the sweetest result.
Can this season get any better for Irish rugby? You betcha. Bring on the Lions!
TIME LINE: 7 minutes - Leinster drop goal: Brian O'Driscoll - 3-0; 9 mins - Leicester Tigers penalty: Julien Dupuy - 3-3; 18 mins - Leinster drop goal: Jonathan Sexton - 6-3; 24 mins - Leinster penalty: Jonathan Sexton - 9-3; 33 mins - Leinster sin-binning: Stan Wright (professional foul); 34 mins - Leicester Tigers penalty: Julien Dupuy - 9-6; 39 mins - Leicester Tigers try: Ben Woods - 9-11; conversion: Julien Dupuy - 9-13; Half-time - Leinster 9 Leicester Tigers; 13; 42 mins - Leicester Tigers penalty: Julien Dupuy - 9-16; 49 mins - Leinster try: Jamie Heaslip - 14-16; conversion: Jonathan Sexton - 16-16; 70 mins - Leinster penalty: Jonathan Sexton - 19-16; Full-time - Leinster 19 Leicester Tigers 16
|Leicester Tigers Score Card|
|Leinster Rugby Score Card|