Win, lose or draw, Welsh are ready to paint town red
THEY are a pessimistic lot, those Welsh folk. The flocks of red-garbed rugby fans flooding Dublin yesterday were not confident that their team would manage to hold back the Irish at Croke Park.
With the Welsh side short of several key players, Carol Pearce, from Carmarthen, Wales, admitted she didn't think they would manage to pull one over on Brian O'Driscoll's team.
But sporting their daffodils and accompanied by 'Brains' the dragon, Carol and friends were still enjoying the craic in Temple Bar.
Unfortunately, just seconds earlier, her friend, Carole John, had had her camera whipped by an opportunistic thief on the street. However, she was vowing not to let the loss of her Christmas present spoil their weekend.
One of her friends, Eiddwen John, had tackled him in a bid to wrestle the camera back. They were just left with the thief's baseball cap and the battery from the camera. "Maybe she could get a new job as a bouncer," one of them quipped.
Many of the pubs and hotels in the Dublin area were enjoying a welcome multimillion-euro boost from the recession doldrums as they pulled frothy pints at a frantic pace.
A sea of red scarves, jerseys and nodding daffodils could be spotted on the streets.
A crowd from Pontypool was practising a scrum as the music rang out from a packed Oliver St John Gogarty's pub.
Tony Parker was honest in his response. Did he think the men in red would manage a convincing win?
"No," came the swift answer. "Ireland are damn good and they are on home ground. I've been here a few times. It is the best away trip, the people are brilliant."
However, he felt the drink was a tad expensive. "I was here a few years back and it was €3.50 to €4 for a pint."
At least one of his bunch was supremely confident. Jason Ace predicted: "Ireland will bottle it".
"Wales will win by 10," predicted another Welshman, Gareth Morgan. "Shane Williams will be electric."
Elsewhere, Katy Vaughan and Nicola Becker, both 20, from Neath, said they were enjoying the "brilliant" atmosphere on their first trip to Dublin.
Nicola admitted she wasn't confident of a win, although her friend Katy was quick to say that the Welsh had good reason to be confident.
See sport: Pages 75-84