Friday 23 June 2017

'We have a fighter’s chance' - Fans hopeful of an upset as Leinster invade Lyon for Clermont clash

Niall Buckley, 34 and wife Jennifer Fitzgerald
Niall Buckley, 34 and wife Jennifer Fitzgerald

Rory Tevlin

Leinster fans have poured into Lyon this morning ahead of this afternoon’s crunch Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont. Two early morning charter flights from Dublin touched down at the city’s airport as the two European heavyweights prepare to do battle this afternoon.

After Munster’s disappointing defeat to Saracens at the Aviva Stadium yesterday, Leinster will be looking to restore Irish pride. While Leinster face an uphill task, fans were optimistic about the Blues' chances. Paul Forde (61) from Clontarf, Dublin was meeting his two sons Jonathan (32) and Timothy (29) at the airport.

He thinks that Leinster’s chances will hinge on the young players like Joey Carbery and Garry Ringrose.

He told Independent.ie: “I flew in from Schiphol in Amsterdam this morning.

“I reckon it is about evens, we have a fighter’s chance.

“I think it will be a surprise if we win, if I was putting the house on it I would bet on the other team but you just never know.

“The last time we came to a semi-final was Bordeaux in 2012 and we have great memories of that.”

The sun is out in Lyon today as the locals go to the polls in the Presidential election.

But the Leinster fans have travelled for one reason and that is to topple fancied opposition in Clermont. Breffni Cummiskey (28), from Dublin, got the early morning flight ahead of the game.

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Paul Forde from Dublin

He was cautiously optimistic but realized that Leinster face a huge challenge.

Breffni said: “We will know how it is going to go after around 20 minutes, it will quickly start to show.

“I think we have a better chance than Munster had. I think Rhys Ruddock is a big one, personally I would have started van der Flier.

“The flight was jammed coming over and we are heading back tonight, hopefully with a win.”

For Husband and wife Niall Buckley (34) and Jennifer Fitzgerald, from Dublin, it is their first time in France for a semi-final.

Niall said the game will be won and lost in the pack.

He added: “If we can gain parity in the pack I think we can win but that is a big ask against Clermont.

“There is a huge pressure to win.”

After an early morning start the Leinster hordes were quickly shipped to the city centre to soak up the atmosphere.

The fans will be greeted by a wall of yellow and blue as thousands of Clermont fans have travelled to Lyon.

The French side are they desperately seeking to win a European crown after so many near misses.

Can Leinster stop them? We will find out in a few hours.

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