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In Pics: Leinster 6 Munster 30 (3)

In Pics: Leinster 6 Munster 30 (3)

Click here for photos as the Munster players celebrate their Heineken Cup semi-final win over Leinster at Lansdowne Road.

Pictured above: Paul O’Connell salutes the many Munster supporters in the South Terrace after the final whistle. The clash with Leinster was the 26-year-old lock’s 30th appearance in the Heineken Cup since his European debut against NEC Harlequins in October 2001.

O’Connell consoles with Leinster and Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll after Munster’s seventh win in eight Heineken Cup outings this season.

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Brian O’Driscoll and Munster’s match winner Ronan O’Gara exchange pleasantries after an absorbing battle at headquarters.

O’Gara’s opposite number, Leinster’s talismanic out-half Felipe Contepomi, reflecting on his side’s performance, felt the province was once again lacking consistency.

The Puma star said: “The one thing we’ve been lacking this year has been consistency. We have proved that we can play some good rugby but you have to play it week in, week out.”

Asked if Munster will lift the Heineken Cup trophy next month, Contepomi added: “They are capable of it. It all depends if they can take the ball away from Biarritz and Munster have a great lineout and scrum. Biarritz are not playing great either. Remember, this will be their first final – Munster have been there twice and lost, so they might win the third one.”

Munster lock Donncha O’Callaghan gives the thumbs up to the province’s supporters in the North Terrace.

Asked about playing against his international team mates, O’Callaghan said: “It was very tough. You look at a fella like Shane Horgan. After the game against England last month you could have kissed him and (today) you were trying to knock his head off. It’s tough but once you pull on the Munster jersey, it’s a pride thing. It’s about your family and friends and the fans who we wanted to pay back for all their years of support.”

Scrum half Peter Stringer claps the Munster fans for their support. Stringer’s involvement was in doubt right up until before kick-off at Lansdowne Road due to an injury received in training.

Munster team doctor Tadhg O’Sullivan explained: “Peter got a knock in training on Friday. It looked innocuous enough. He was just picking the ball up from the back of a ruck when he got hit from behind and suffered an acute lower back spasm. So he was a serious doubt for the game right up until kick-off.

“We just had to see how he went in the warm-up and eventually he came through. As I said to him afterwards, he was the medical man-of-the-match. He was fantastic and thank God for that.”

Two of Munster’s try scorers, Denis Leamy and Ronan O’Gara congratulate each other. It was a big weekend for the Leamy household as Kevin Leamy, a younger brother of Denis’, scored a late try in Shannon’s 15-14 win over Dublin University in the All-Ireland Under-20 Cup final on Saturday. Kevin, also a flanker, is a former captain of the Rockwell College senior team.

Leinster lock Bryce Williams and number eight Jamie Heaslip walk off the Lansdowne Road pitch in despondent mood. Heaslip’s father Richard, an army officer, hails from Limerick and played for Shannon during his rugby career.

Munster winger Ian Dowling walks towards the sea of red in the South Terrace. Hooker Jerry Flannery was another player to have a special mention for the province’s fans afterwards.

“It was such a fantastic day, and it would be wrong not to give credit to our supporters. On the drive to the stadium it was just a sea of red. You just want to do those fans justice because they spend so much money following us. They deserve it.”

Anthony Foley and Paul O’Connell congratulate each other on a job well done.

Looking ahead to the final on May 20 and with the words “third time lucky” ringing in his ears, O’Connell warned: “It’s never your season and it’s no one’s destiny to win it. Instead you need a bit of luck and to be the best team in the competition. You have to play for 80 minutes of every game.

“The final is a great opportunity for us but it’s not our destiny – they best team will win.

“If we lose, we come back next year. If we win, we’ll come back next year and try to retain the title. There’s no destiny in these things – it’s about producing the goods.”

**All photos by Dan Sheridan, Billy Stickland and Morgan Treacy of Inpho Photography**