herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Unforgettable weekend of capital gains as Leinster and Crokes triumph

Winning feeling: Dubs enjoy sporting success on two fronts

DUBLINERS were today celebrating a fantastic weekend's sport after their rugby and football stars came up trumps.

Leinster have now been installed as 9/4 Heineken Cup favourites following the quarter-final and semi-final draws.

Joe Schmidt's men will host Leicester Tigers in Dublin in the last eight, with another home match in the last four if they make it through. That clash is scheduled for the weekend of April 8-10 -- with the exact date yet to be decided.

Birthday boy Brian O'Driscoll (32) capped Leinster's 36-11 blitz of Racing Metro with their fifth and final try in a mesmerising performance.

Friday's display guaranteed a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup.

And in Gaelic football, Stillorgan-based Kilmacud Crokes won the Leinster club football final, beating Rhode from Offaly by 0-14 to 1-7.

Rhode did well for the first 17 minutes in Portlaoise yesterday as they opened up a four-point lead but then Kilmacud took over. Kilmacud heroes Paddy Duggan and Craig Dias dominated the midfield in the second half, wrestling the match away from Rhode.

By the 17th minute, the Offaly team were 1-5 to 0-4 ahead but Crokes fans need not have feared as the south Dublin outfit were only getting going.

"We had to weather the storm, but we managed it. There's great character in this squad and it showed when we fell four points behind," Kilmacud captain Pat Burke said.

Rhode manager Tom Coffey said they were okay at half-time but Kilmacud hit them with four points early in the second half that set them on the road towards a deserved victory.

As excitement builds ahead of the Heineken Cup knock-out stages, Leinster's matches are expected to be switched from the RDS to the much bigger Aviva Stadium.

The quarter-final will see Leinster captain Leo Cullen and flanker Shane Jennings come up against their old Leicester team-mates.

Unbeaten Northampton, who qualified as No 1 seeds, host Ulster in the last eight and are second favourites at 7/2.

The other quarter-finals are all-French affairs, with Perpignan at home to Toulon and last season's beaten finalists Biarritz against champions Toulouse.

Leinster will go up against Biarritz or Toulouse if they advance past Leicester.

Schmidt gave a strong hint the quarter-final tie will be moved from the RDS to the 50,000-capacity Aviva. "I think with the quality of the opposition it would be a fantastic opportunity to give our supporters a bit more opportunity to get along to the game. That was really a massive part of what motivated the players on Friday night," he said.

comurphy@herald.ie

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