More than 5,500 supporters gathered at the RDS on Sunday afternoon to welcome home the victorious Leinster squad with the Heineken Cup in tow.
Leinster, who lifted the trophy for the second time in three years on Saturday evening, beat Northampton Saints 33-22 at the Millennium Stadium and were warmly received by the supporters, many of whom had travelled over to Cardiff.
A special presentation was made by OLSC President Jarrod Bromley to thank Shaun Berne, Nathan Hines, Stephen Keogh and Stan Wright for their contributions to Leinster’s success on behalf of the Supporters Club as all four will move on this summer.
The large gathering heard from Hines and Wright as well as Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt and inspirational captain Leo Cullen.
Jamie Heaslip, Shane Horgan, Shane Jennings, Isa Nacewa, Brian O’Driscoll and Heineken Cup man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton also spoke to the crowd and thanked them for their support.
Ireland captain O’Driscoll drew loud cheers when he quipped that the Heineken Cup is now ‘the Jonny Sexton Cup.’
“We got our act together for the second 40 minutes thankfully. It’s nice to be part of one of those finals that’s going to be remembered for many, many years,” he said.
“Old man (Shane) Horgan, myself, Leo (Cullen), Darce (Gordon D’Arcy) and Jenno (Shane Jennings)…we’ve been at it a long time. To wait ten odd years and then get two winners’ medals in three years is very, very special.
“It’s the hunger and the desire within this squad that drives you on to get better every day. Hopefully this isn’t the end of us – I think the ambition is there to get more medals in our back pockets.”
Sexton admitted: “It’s a great dressing room to be in at the moment. It’s a pleasure to work with them every day and play with them every week.
“It was like a nightmare in the first half. We desperately needed to regroup. We got some clear instructions from the coaches and the leaders in the team, and the second half was one to remember.
“We’ve got a number of younger players coming through now, 19 and 20, and hopefully we can have plenty more days like this and Saturday in the future.”
RTE’s Michael Corcoran was MC on the day while Leo the Lion was on hand to the delight of the supporters, young and old.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Gerry Breen, also addressed the supporters as he congratulated the squad on their European triumph.
Thankfully the rain showers cleared in time for the squad’s arrival and there was live music, children’s entertainment and extended highlights of Saturday’s famous fightback for the blue-clad fans to enjoy.
The players and coaches signed autographs and posed for photographs on an afternoon of celebration for the province.