The last time Leinster enjoyed such an extended unbeaten run was in 1995/96 when they carried a ten game winning sequence into game eleven, the semi-final of the Heineken Cup.
The last time Leinster enjoyed such an extended unbeaten run was in 1995/96 when they carried a ten game winning sequence into game eleven, the semi-final of the Heineken Cup. Ciaran Callan coached the side that bitterly cold December afternoon when Cardiff ended their run 23-14 at Lansdowne Road, Paul Dean was his assistant and team manager was another international from Dean’s era, Jim (now Senator Jim) Glennon.
Glennon, still very much the Leinster man was coach when Ulster’s great winning sequence ended with a 25-0 defeat in Donnybrook in 1994 and he is looking forward to Saturday’s encounter with a deal more caution than some. ” Leinster are an extremely good side, they’re playing great rugby. They’ve solved the perennial problem at 7 and 10 and among a very talented squad they have two outstanding performers, Brian O’Driscoll and Malcolm O’Kelly. The way they (Leinster) are playing right now they are right up there with Munster and Leicester and they deserve to be in this final.”
But Glennon, who won five interprovincial titles in a row under Mick Doyle in the eighties, then sounds a note of caution.
” Unlike Munster and Leicester, Leinster haven’t competed at the same level outside this competition. It’s one thing beating Ebbw Vale at Donnybrook, it’s something entirely different beating Munster in a final in Lansdowne Road. They’ve shown their mettle this season particularly in the three match rubber against Newport but they’ve still won nothing yet”.
And will Saturday bring them their first trophy?
” Yes, they can win. They’re good enough. But it’s not as simple as that when you’re playing Munster. I know Munster will be without John Hayes, David Wallace, probably Rob Henderson and maybe Peter Stringer, but that might be just the challenge Munster need. They thrive on adversity. There’ll be new faces with something to prove”. Glennon nominates Hayes as the biggest loss to Munster’s cause. ” He will be sorely missed and that’s with no disrespect to Marcus Horan. John was singled out for ‘special treatment’ by the All Blacks and you can’t be paid a greater compliment than that”.
But getting around to the thorny question of who’ll win? ” Much too close to call”, says Skerries RFC President, Glennon, ” Both defences are excellent, both sides know each other so well they may cancel each other out. In the end it could come down to a kicking contest between Ronan O’Gara and Nathan Spooner and without having seen the stats in that particular area I would imagine that O’Gara is the more consistent”.