Alex (14) wins trip to lead out rugby heroes on big day in Japan
Schoolboy Alex Lynch is en route to Japan to lead out the Irish rugby team for their first match of the World Cup.
The 14-year-old from Terenure won the Rugby World Cup 2019 Emirates Flag Bearer competition.
It means that when the green machine rolls on to the pitch at Yokohama tomorrow to face Scotland, Alex will be at the vanguard.
He was persuaded to enter the competition by his father Peter, who is also making the trip to Tokyo, and the teenager admits he "had to lie down" when he heard he had won.
Friends at High School, Rathgar, and Three Rock Rovers, where Alex plays hockey, will all be cheering him on.
His two older brothers will also be watching enviously from Dublin.
"I've been to the Aviva a few times but this is my first away game," he said.
As for Irish chances, Alex is optimistic, saying: "If we can beat New Zealand or South Africa in the quarter-finals, we can go all the way".
Meanwhile, jet lag and a lack of sleep were not going to stop Irish fans from joining Japan's World Cup party in Yokohama.
The tournament got under way in Tokyo as the hosts earned a hard-fought 30-10 win over Russia, with flying winger Kotaro Matsushima scoring a hat-trick of tries to the delight of the largely local crowd.
Ireland fans Deborah McGrath from New Ross, David Burke from Co Tipperary, James Ryan from Kilkenny and James O'Brien from Tipperary joined them in their celebrations.
They are excited about what Ireland can achieve.
"We came over two days ago, it's been great so far. We went to Disneyland yesterday and now we're here," Deborah said. "We're here for three weeks in total. It's a bit of a trip of a lifetime.
"We're confident about Ireland's chances."
David reckons Joe Schmidt's men have what it takes to get off to a good start against the Scots.
"If you look at the teams, Ireland are definitely better. Even with Jordan Larmour at the back, we've enough to beat them," he said.