Grim forecast can't dampen spirits as Six Nations fans soak up the atmosphere
THEY'LL battle each other and the weather this afternoon – but last night Wales and Ireland had a mutual meeting of minds.
There were smiles, jokes, songs, more than a few beers, and, of course, the obligatory invaders in dragon onesies.
The Welsh began arriving as early as Thursday, with many saying that win, lose or draw, they intend to convert their pounds to euro and keep spending until Monday.
That's all great for our stuttering economy, but on this occasion all anyone cares about is the conversion rate on the pitch.
Come 2.30pm all the jovial banter about whether Brian O'Driscoll and Warren Gatland will exchange Valentine's cards will be put to one side.
"We're bred on rugby in Wales; it's in our blood," Michael Baeen (28) told the
Irish Independent. Mr Baeen had flown into the capital from 'The Valleys' with 14 members of his local rugby club Beechgrove Rugby and said there would be 'a clash of titans' on the pitch.
"It's going to be a tough game. A very tough game with maybe four points in it. It kills me to say this but I think Ireland will win it," he said.
Irish fans were a little more confident.
"We have it in the bag," Caoimhe Gallagher (29), from Blackrock, said. "There's no way Wales are taking us down. No way."
Neither side seemed too concerned about the potential gale-force winds whipping across the pitch.
"We're well used to the rain. It'll take more then a few drops to ruin a good game," Amy Jones (24), from Meath, said.
"There'll be nothing but banter in the stands," Dafydd LLellyn (52), from south Wales, said.
Dafydd and his two best friends Adam Jones and Richard Morris had been counting down the minutes to the game since arriving on Thursday.
"We came over early to 'soak up some of the atmosphere'," he said. "Which is a polite way of saying 'getting drunk'."
Trinity St David's College students Sean Curran (19), Morgan Griffith (19), Alex Knott (20) and Aled James (19) had caught the ferry over for the match.
"It's a pivotal game for us," Mr Curran said. "I think it's the defining match of the Six Nations," Peter Bennett, from (29) Clondalkin, said.
"It'll give the Irish team a boost before they head over to Twickenham and would be a real victory for Schmidt."
"I think the atmosphere inside the Aviva will be absolutely electric."
Welsh man Justin Manley was wearing his colours on his chest as he wandered around Temple Bar in a bright red dragon onesie.
"It was a bet that went a bit wrong," he said. "And now we're traipsing around Dublin dressed as dragons – brilliant.
"We'll be wearing them to watch the match – provided they don't fall apart."
Dragon slaying – on the pitch – is the new sport of the weekend, and the Irish fans will be hoping for a high kill rate.