Barry Duggan: Siege of Montpellier kicks off with red army invasion
The Munster siege of Montpellier is underway with red army supporters invading from all possible routes.
Early reports from advance legions say the French city is already witnessing it's greatest ever Irish invasion as the Munster rugby team bid to conquer another European powerhouse.
Clermont Auvergne are hot favourites in tomorrow's Heineken Cup semi-final clash but try telling that to red-clad supporters and their team en route to storm the Mediterranean bastille.
'Believe' is the motto and belief is most certainly the mood as up to 1,000 Munster rugby fans - and their team - departed Shannon Airport today.
It was written all over the airport; on wristbands sold for the youth mental health charity Jigsaw, on the digital screens and, most importantly, in the hearts of players and fans as they prepared to board.
One of the first to check-in for their flight to Montpellier was Paul O'Connell's uncle, Bob Quilty and his wife, Eleanor.
Both are seasoned campaigners when it comes to supporting Munster abroad.
Mr Quilty said he has to date kept 110 scrapbooks which detail the progress of nephew's career from a schoolboy to international legend. He hopes to add another glorious chapter this weekend to the collection.
"The bond between the team and supporters is immense. The players need us and we know that so we get hugely behind them.
"We can win tomorrow - make no mistake about it," Mr Quilty said.
"There will be immense singing, laughing, jokes and craic, but above all this is about a Munster win," he added.
Players mingled with supporters at the departure terminal while Simon Zebo looked like the most carefree man in the world as he strolled about in shorts wearing a backpack.
James and Kate Ryan from the Ennis Road, Limerick are bringing their 12-week old son, Luca, to his first away outing.
"Luca will be all decked out in his Munster gear for the game," his father said.
"If they play like typical Munster players, anything is possible and hopefully Luca will be looking forward to another big match in Dublin in a few weeks time," Mr Ryan added.
Munster Assistant Coach, Anthony Foley told the Irish Independent that with kick-off quickly approaching, the team's focus was on the game.
"We go into the game believing we can win. We are under no illusions of how good Clermont are.
"We just have to believe in ourselves and give ourself the best chance to win this game.
The boys will be up for it and their will be no lack of effort, work rate or endeavour.
"The most important thing is to get a result out of here.
"We have massive respect for Clermont and what they have done, but we want to win this competition and they are in our way - so we gotta beat them," Foley said.
It's all about belief.