Click here for photos of Munster’s homecoming parade through the rain-soaked streets of Limerick on Sunday.
Pictured above: Voted man of the match in the Heineken Cup final, Munster scrum half Peter Stringer poses with the trophy as more than 40,000 fans thronged the streets of Limerick. Stringer said: “This is not just about me or the players. It’s about who we are and where we come from, the people you meet in the streets – the whole community.”
Having been caught out for Stringer’s first half try, Biarritz flanker Serge Betsen admitted after the match: “We just didn’t have the right communication between me, Dimitri (Yachvili) and Sireli (Bobo) for the try.
“Sireli went to the other side and I was very surprised to see Stringer go through – it was the turning point of the match. We are extremely disappointed, but credit to Munster, they will be very strong European champions.”
The bus carrying the victorious Munster team snakes through Limerick.
The delighted duo of captain Anthony Foley and coach Declan Kidney hold the Heineken Cup trophy aloft in Limerick’s O’Connell Street.
Foley, whose father Brendan, a noted second row, also played for Shannon, Munster and Ireland during his playing career, said of Saturday’s triumph: “I felt we deserved it over the year. At Munster we’ve always said we want to win trophies and big competitions, and what we have achieved is magnificent, but it’s a journey which is not over yet.
“We can kick on from here, and if we do, then we can compete for this trophy for a number of years to come.
“People call our fans our ’16th man’, and maybe they’re right. It was awesome at times to look around and see all that red. They are putting their hands in their pockets and throwing hard-earned cash at us, so it is good to reward them with this victory.”
Anthony Foley and Declan Kidney show off their prized possession in O’Connell Street. Saturday’s final was Munster’s 77th game in the Heineken Cup and incredibly Foley’s 76th appearance in the competition. The 32-year-old forward has scored 22 tries in the competition’s history – including efforts this season against the Dragons and Sale.
Munster centre Rob Henderson shows off his own prized possession – daughter Mia.
Anthony Foley with his son Tony, who turns one on Wednesday. Quite a week in the Foley household!
Munster players, with Donncha O’Callaghan flying the flag, on the top deck of the bus. O’Callaghan’s second row partner Paul O’Connell has already targeted Celtic League glory for next season.
The Limerick man said: “Our Celtic League form this season has been poor, and we need to start performing better in that.
“If you look at teams like Wasps and Leicester, when they were winning the Heineken Cup they were also dominating their domestic league.”
Munster’s final game of the season and Celtic League campaign is next Saturday against Cardiff at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.30pm), and it’s almost certain to be a sell-out.
Video analyst George Murray with players Denis Fogarty, Peter Stringer and John Kelly and the Heineken Cup trophy.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**