Our blue heaven as Leinster storm on
Leinster 32 Toulouse 23
Published 01/05/2011 | 05:00
AS talismen go, there are few, if any, who can initiate into the mysteries as can Brian O'Driscoll, a young man, sports star and, of course, husband, around whom so much that is good is bound to happen -- and usually does.
For a while yesterday, during a pulsating Heineken Cup semi-final, it looked as if O'Driscoll, perhaps for the first time, might emerge as the villain of the piece.
Just three minutes from half-time the Leinster centre was sent to the sin bin. It seems a dubious decision. Dave Pearson, the referee from England, said O'Driscoll had come in on the side of a ruck and blew for offside. A yellow card was produced.
Toulouse, the reigning champions, who beat Leinster at the same stage last year, drew level with the penalty awarded, and at that stage it looked as if they might get the upper hand.
An action replay showed that Mr Pearson was quite harsh, and at a packed Aviva Stadium, there were more than a few prepared to suggest that had the Ireland captain turned up at a certain wedding on Friday the Englishman may have been more forgiving.
In case you hadn't heard, O'Driscoll, a former captain of the British and Irish Lions, with his lovely wife Amy Huberman, were invited as guests of Prince William to his marriage to Catherine Middleton. He had to decline.
In a fiercely contested battle which went down to the wire, O'Driscoll emerged from his 10 minutes more sinned against than sinning shortly into the second half, and he proceeded to land the decisive blow. In the 58th minute he made for the line, cut to his left and then he darted under the tackle of Vincent Clerc. Try! Leinster took a commanding lead, 29-20, which they would not relinquish.
It was O'Driscoll's 30th try in his glorious entanglement with the Heineken Cup and there was hardly a sweeter one. His side went on to win 32-23, the other try coming from Jamie Heaslip, the man of the match.
In the final, Leinster will meet either Northampton or Perpignan in Cardiff on May 21. It will be a trip to the UK he will not want to miss.