Friday 9 December 2016

Supporters belt out 'The Fields' as team pulls off Miracle of Murrayfield

Martin Grant

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

Connacht supporters celebrate their team's victory at Murrayfield Photo: Toby Williams
Connacht supporters celebrate their team's victory at Murrayfield Photo: Toby Williams
Siofra Harnett consoles Clare Mayo after the match Photo: Toby Williams

From the highest heights of Murrayfield, thousands of fans from the West led a rip-roaring rendition of 'The Fields of Athenry'. They had dreams and songs to sing in the Scottish sunshine.

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As the final whistle sounded loud and shrill, their 131-year-old dream became reality. The hitherto empty Connacht trophy cabinet will now hold some silverware.

The 34,550 fans - the majority of them shouting for the Greens - shook the stadium as the Miracle of Murrayfield was played out.

On the pitch, the Westerners' party was in full swing. It was going to be one hell of a hooley.

Energised with adrenaline, the Connacht men punched the air, danced like lunatics and uncorked the champagne as 'We Are The Champions' blasted from the stadium's speakers.

Connacht's try-scoring trio of Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy took turns at lifting the trophy to the sky as they set off on a leisurely lap of honour - they were going to make this moment last.

It marked the start of a celebration that lasted long into the small hours, spreading to Castlebar and Oranmore, Boyle and Loughrea, for this was Connacht's glory day.

Galway couple Norman FitzGerald and Annette Walsh were cock-a-hoop after the game.

"It's the best €1,000 we've ever spent on a weekend away," said Norman, referring to the staggering costs of flights and accommodation in the Scottish capital.

"We'll always remember this moment. We played good rugby throughout the season. This is what we do now."

Dubliners Aidan Dunne, Seamus Cosgrave, Paddy Molloy and Joe Sweeney were drowning their sorrows with pints and wondering where it had all gone wrong.

"The best team won," Aidan conceded. "Leinster just didn't show up on the day. There will be some serious questions asked now."

Gearóid O'Keeffe, from Dún Laoghaire, was also pondering Leinster's poor play with his son Barry.

"Connacht played with real passion and that made the difference to the game," said Gearóid.

Galway woman Aíne O'Connor spotted disheartened Leinster fan Eoin O'Driscoll, from Dublin, and decided to give him a comforting hug.

"We don't know each other," said Aíne, "but he looked gutted and needed somebody to cheer him up."

Just across the road, Noreen McHale, from Mayo, was celebrating with her friend Síofra Harnett, from Clare.

"This win means everything to the people of Connacht," said Noreen.

"It was an exceptional win, and we will go on to bigger and better things."

Síofra said the achievement would "inspire a new generation" of players and fans.

Leinster supporters Tom Cuppagy, Frances Roche, Amy Davis and Alva and Rory O'Sullivan were convinced their side hadn't turned up.

"We didn't play the rugby we're capable of. Connacht were just the better side and seemed to want it more," said Dubliner Tom.

And with that, what had turned out to be an incredible day drifted into an unforgettable night. The West would be staying awake.

Irish Independent

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