Lansdowne Road was a great place to be last Saturday on Celtic League Final day. A massive crowd generated an electric atmosphere and two good rugby sides produced an enthralling game of rugby
Lansdowne Road was a great place to be last Saturday on Celtic League Final day. A massive crowd generated an electric atmosphere and two good rugby sides produced an enthralling game of rugby.
The occasion will be remembered for many incidents, fierce tackles, sublime skills, and in the end the anguish on the faces of the Munster players contrasted with the sheer joy of their Leinster counterparts.
Shane Horgan will look back on this match with particular joy. The big Drogheda lad was simply immense, eclipsing his more vaunted centre partner Brian O’Driscoll, even though O’Driscoll had a fine game.
Eric Miller will look back with different thoughts. It was a shame that what should have been his finest hour was spoiled by a moment of madness. But he shouldn’t be demonised. He is not known for the type of action that saw him dismissed. Nor is Dominic Crotty the type of player who goes about thumping players. And Crotty was lucky to escape censure although the penalty reversal was seen by many as the game’s turning point.
It was wonderful to see the emerging skill of Paul O’Connell but the player who caught the eye did so for something he did after the final whistle rather than the many good things he did during the game.
As his teammates set off on their well deserved lap of honour, Denis Hickie went among the Munster players offering a hand of condolence and that, and his after match comments, showed a humanity that is hugely admirable. Remember this is the player who was written off after the South Africa tour in ’98. To get back to where he is now, he had to dig deep, deeper than most people are able to go. Part of his reward is a Celtic League medal and a central role in his side’s success.
Leinster have emerged from the shade to bring a new force to Irish rugby. It can only be good for the game in this country. It can only be bad for Heineken Cup aspirants. Defeat will add steel to Munster’s determination. And once they’ve enjoyed a day and a bit to celebrate, Leinster will cast a covetous eye towards the Euro.