Friday 28 October 2016

Leinster and Connacht fans flood Edinburgh as two tribes go to war

Brothers Andrew and Stephen Wallace with Connacht fan Eoghan O’Dwyer (Picture: Toby Williams)
Brothers Andrew and Stephen Wallace with Connacht fan Eoghan O’Dwyer (Picture: Toby Williams)

Leinster and Connacht fans have been taking the high road - and the low road - to Edinburgh for the All-Ireland Pro12 final.

Dedicated rugby supporters have used all means of transport to invade the Scottish capital.

With ferries full and planes packed, some die-hard fans even chose to fly to Newcastle - 150km from Edinburgh - to get behind their provinces in today's crunch clash at Murrayfield.


With some hotels in Edinburgh charging more than €800 for a room for the historic clash, hundreds of fans have opted to sleep in hostels and campsites in and around Edinburgh.

Even though there is massive support for underdogs Connacht, True Blue fans such as Dublin brothers Steven (24) and Andrew Wallace (22) and their friend Eoghan O'Dwyer (24) were confident of a Leinster win.

"We have the players, we have the talent and we have this win in the bag. The game just needs to be played now," said a confident Andrew.

Lindsey Biggs (32), from Kilkenny, who had travelled with her friend Katrina Crossley from Belfast, reckons the Blues would lift the trophy today.

"We always follow the rugby and travel to most games, but we couldn't miss this clash in Edinburgh. The city is just a rugby Mecca and Leinster will win," said Lindsey.

Dara Preyton (26), from Mayo, combined a romantic weekend away and the rugby game with his partner Maria Clarke (25), from Dublin.

Although the couple have been together for six years, when it comes to the oval ball they don't share the same view.

"I'm a Connacht fan and Maria supports them Leinster boys," said Dara.

"The flights were too expensive from Dublin so we flew from Belfast and we're staying with friends.

"We wouldn't miss the game. This season is what dreams are made of, and I just hope the Greens can make it come true."

Donal Hurrell (32), the operations manager of The Three Sisters pub in the heart of Edinburgh, said he thought Leinster would edge it.

Before settling in the city after college, Donal grew-up in Lanesborough in Longford - a border village between Connacht and Leinster.


"You can always tell it's going to be a big game when you see Irish fans travelling in their droves the night before," said Donal.

"We have 30,000 pints stocked for thirsty fans. I think Leinster will pip the Greens, but I admit I would love to see Connacht win."

That was a sentiment echoed by Roscommon man Gerry Lane (42), who was braving the dull Scottish weather in a kilt.

"Connacht will win. The underdogs are winning - look at Leicester," he said.

The match, which kicks-off at 5.30pm, is Connacht's biggest match in their 131-year history. Only 80 minutes separate them from heartbreak - or history.

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