Saturday 23 February 2019

Capital painted blue as Leinster army see champions knocked out in march to semi-finals

Chris Ward and Catriona Quill
Chris Ward and Catriona Quill

An army of Leinster fans celebrated a glorious win against defending champions Saracens at the Aviva Stadium, with fans correctly predicting they would smash the enemy on home turf.

Families and friends turned out to watch the grudge match between Leinster and Saracens in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals.

And the capital was well and truly painted blue as the home team soared their way into the semis, where they will meet Scarlets for one of the most hotly-anticipated games this year.

But despite the fierce competition between the two sides, Leinster fans mingled with their London adversaries to show there were no hard feelings in the game of gentlemen.

Anne Jane Brien, from London, a diehard Saracens fan, attended the match with her nieces from Sandymount, Dublin, and had the children, Katie Bowen, Alison Moylan and Aimee Brien, selling cakes from a stall near the grounds for a children's enterprise initiative.

"Obviously I'm a Saracens fan," Anne Jane said, as she taught the 11-year-old girls a Sarries chant.


Despite this, the girls wore their Leinster colours with pride, while doing their best not to knock their aunt's attempts at uniting both teams.

Leinster and Saracens fans smiled as they snapped up cupcakes and revelled in the good humour the family were spreading.

"I wanted the kids to have some fun and make some money for their project," Ms Brien said.

"And though I wanted a Saracens win of course, it doesn't matter because we are here as a family having a great time and the kids are loving it and I'm delighted to be in Dublin.

"We lost but I'm still happy because I'm here with my family."

The pubs around the stadium were packed as fans celebrated their victory and opposing fans were made to feel at home.

Brian Williams, from Castleknock, Dublin, attended the game with wife Mary and held his young son, Matthew, aloft in the air triumphantly.

"I knew Leinster were going to win, it was just amazing.

"There's nowhere else we'd rather be today," he said.

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