Tuesday 6 December 2016

Fans seek out a dram of whisky to steady nerves ahead of historic clash

Martin Grant

Published 28/05/2016 | 02:30

Brothers Andrew and Stephen Wallace with Eoghan O'Dwyer in Edinburgh last night ahead of the clash between Connacht and Leinster Photo: Toby Williams
Brothers Andrew and Stephen Wallace with Eoghan O'Dwyer in Edinburgh last night ahead of the clash between Connacht and Leinster Photo: Toby Williams
Katrina Crossley and Lindsey Briggs Photo: Toby Williams
Maria Clarke and Dara Peyton Photo: Toby Williams

Armed with banners and foghorns, thousands of Irish rugby fans descended on Edinburgh to cheer on the Blues and the Greens ahead of the Connacht and Leinster clash at Murrayfield.

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The historic city was buzzing last night as Irish fans enjoyed a dram of whisky before today's Pro12 final.

This is Connacht's biggest match in their 131-year history.

Just 80 minutes separate them from heartache or history, as they set sights on capturing the province's first silverware.

Roscommon man Gerry Lane (42) was feeling confident and had even braved the dull Scottish weather in a kilt.

"Connacht will win, the underdogs are winning this year...just look at Leicester in the football," said Gerry.

Dara Peyton (26) from Mayo travelled with his partner Maria Clarke (25) from Dublin to the Scottish capital to watch the game.

Although the couple have been together for six years, they will both be cheering on different teams this evening.

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

"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.

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

Lindsey Biggs (32), from Kilkenny, had travelled with her friend Katrina Crossley from Belfast, and reckoned The Blues will lift the trophy today.

"We always follow the rugby and travel to most games, and we couldn't miss this clash in Edinburgh.

"The city is just a rugby Mecca and Leinster will win," Lindsey said.

Irishman Donal Hurrell (32), who is the operations manager of The Three Sisters pub in the heart of Edinburgh, welcomed Irish fans.

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

Meanwhile, Dublin brothers Stephen (24) and Andrew Wallace (22) were praying for 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.

Although the Green and Blue fans were united in sharing predictions over pints last night, come 5.30pm this afternoon the 67,000 fans will be divided.

With hoteliers in Edinburgh charging more than €800 for a room this weekend, many fans were forced to sleep in hostels and campsites in towns surrounding Murrayfield.

But this didn't seem to dampen spirits, with the mood remaining buoyant in the city until the early hours.

Irish Independent

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