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Leinster players celebrate after the whistle during the Heineken Cup, Semi Final at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Leinster give Munster a licking

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Leinster players celebrate after the whistle during the Heineken Cup, Semi Final at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by: PA Wire/Press Association Images

This is going to be a very personal column, so apologies in advance to anyone it may offend or anyone looking for another Keano rant after his latest fundraising on behalf of the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

 
Roy was very good on the Late Late Show by the way, even if he’s still peddling a tired old line that nobody understands just why he made the most idiotic stand of all time in Saipan.
 
But hey, we don’t talk about that anymore. Life is too short and life is for the living as my sister-in-law always says, which gets me back nicely to family.
 
There’s a family feel about much of this week’s column, mostly because this was a week when sport finally had to take second place to family in the Dervan household.
 
The youngest son Ciaran, you see, made his Confirmation on Saturday and for those of you who haven’t attended an Irish Confirmation in some time it’s now worth about € 1,000 to the “confirmee.”
 
I know I should be telling you all how he was touched by the Holy Spirit on Saturday morning but in truth, like most kids his age, he was probably more touched by the PS3 he was able to buy for himself on Sunday morning thanks to the generosity of family and friends on his landmark day.
 
As a result of the Holy Spirit and the final Confirmation of three in our household, we are now the proud owners of some very ringing eardrums thanks to that Rockband game that is all the rage with the kids who were confirmed alongside our Ciaran at the weekend.
 
In truth though, the wannabe guitar heroes weren’t the only reason the ears were ringing come Sunday morning.
 
Seeing as how the wife Liz is from Cork, it was only natural that we had a house full of southerners up for the weekend, many of them cursing the fact that the final Confirmation shindig chez Dervan clashed with the big rugby match at Croke Park involving their beloved Munster and the ladyboys of Leinster.
 
The slagging had started as early as Friday night when the two brothers-in-law went for a pint down in our local village in a county that is very much in the heart of Leinster -- with one of them resplendent in his red Munster jersey.
 
By Saturday morning the red jersey count was into double figures down the back of the church, though the sight of Samantha Mumba in our midst was far more eye catching -- for some!
 
Come the real countdown to kick-off at five o’clock on Saturday evening, there wasn’t a spare seat in the sitting room as the Munster crowd mocked us locals incessantly.
 
One of the brothers-in-law admitted he was nervous before the big game, then remarked that he always gets nervous before Munster play a European Cup final but the nerves were earlier than usual this year.
 
That was cheeky enough until the other one of his type offered to explain the rules of rugby to my mother, a bad mistake on his part even if she insisted she’s more of a soccer woman herself.
 
My mother, as I’ve outlined on this page before, has something of a soft spot for Peter Stringer. I think she likes the fact that he’s small, very small, but well able to stand up for himself.
 
She was very upset when he was all but discarded by Ireland after a disastrous World Cup in 2008, and almost aghast when Declan Kidney recalled him to his starting team earlier this year, then dropped him to the bench again for the final Grand Slam game in Wales.
 
That explains why my seventy-something mother was cheering Stringer and not O’Gara when Stringer’s pass set the Ireland out-half up for the winning Grand Slam drop goal in Cardiff a month ago.
 
On Saturday though, Stringer was back in the bold corner as far as the ma was concerned, and by halftime she was in danger of engaging in fisticuffs with more than one of the in-laws from Cork as they questioned Contepomi’s manhood and Dricco’s parenthood.
 
She warned them she’d have the last laugh when Gordon D’Arcy scored that first try just before the break and she was right, visibly lifting off her chair when Brian O’Driscoll intercepted O’Gara’s intended pass for O’Connell on his way to one of the great intercept tries of all time.
 
The game was good as over at that stage, and the Munster crowd in our midst had no choice but to accept it. They slumped into their seats in shock at what they had just witnessed – a Munster team out-Munstered by the Ladyboys of Leinster.
 
Never was a win on a television screen sweeter. For the rest of the night and for the rest of the weekend we slaughtered them, repeatedly asking them what the score was and what the Munster fans were going to do when we were all in Edinburgh for the final.
 
They took it well, and they had no choice. Those who know their rugby -- and most Munster fans do, to be fair to them -- acknowledged that Leinster were the hungrier and sharper team on the day.
 
There was a commitment and ferocity to Leinster’s play that was reminiscent of Munster at their very best, and that’s why the Blues will meet Geordan Murphy’s Leicester in the final later this month.
 
For Munster it’s back to the drawing board, but I won’t be expecting too many of them to shout for the Leinster boys in the European Cup decider.
 
Even as they made their way home from Meath on Monday morning, our visitors were talking about the Leicester Tigers as the team to shout for in Murrayfield when this year’s Heineken Cup is decided.
 
Losing to Leinster on Saturday was bad enough for them, but God help them if it’s Leicester who actually lift the Cup they have just relinquished.
 
It could happen -- but I wouldn’t bet the Confirmation money on it. For now beating Munster is surely sweet enough for anyone of a Leinster persuasion.    
 
 

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