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flocked

LEINSTER'S dedicated fans began the journey to Twickenham today.

Dublin Airport was bustling with rugby supporters beating the rush across the Irish Sea.

John Hewett from Blanchardstown is travelling with friends David Lawlor and David's two sons Philip and Carl.

A confident John believes Leinster have enough to beat Ulster.

"I think Leinster will win by 14 points. If we move the ball quickly we'll come out on top," he told the Herald this morning.

"This is our second trip to a Heineken Cup Final. It's becoming an annual routine for us at this stage," he added.

Brothers Wayne and Damian McCrink, from Dundalk, are also confident of a win -- although probably slightly more hopeful than others.

"We are looking forward to the match. We have a big bet on Leinster to win so we'll be extra nervous at kick-off," Damien explained.

Sisters Sarah Jane and Nicky, from Dublin, began planning for a Heineken Cup Final some 10 months ago.

"We are very enthusiastic -- we bought our tickets in July. This is our fourth final and we'll be at the Aviva next year. Leinster will win by 10 points," Sarah Jane said.

Fans flocked to Dublin Airport just hours before the Leinster team, headed up by captain Leo Cullen, jetted out in style.

The team were due aboard a specially decorated CityJet shortly before midday today.

The airline company decided to paint their aircraft in Leinster's blue as they set out for London to win an unprecedented third Heineken Cup in four years.

CityJet has been partners with Leinster rugby for over 18 months, flying them across Europe in their bid for silverware, and transformed one of their Avro RJ85 aircraft in a mission they dubbed Operation Bluebird.

Many Leinster fans in London will be flocking to the Porterhouse in Covent Garden to watch the match.

Members of the Official Leinster Supporter Club will descend upon the five-storey London venue with dreams of witnessing their team claim their third Heineken Cup.

And along with the Porterhouse in Covent Gardens, Leinster fans are also encouraged to go to the William Webb Ellis pub in Twickenham where they can gather to watch the Amlin Cup Challenge final on a specially erected screen.

Those lucky enough to be in Cardiff for last year's epic victory over Northampton will remember the European Champions arena which will also be staged this year.

This will provide an arena for fans of both sides to try their luck at certain rugby challenges before and after the game, such as goal kicking and their passing accuracy.

Jarrod Bromley, president of the OLSC, advised fans to travel to Twickenham early to avoid delays and enjoy the spectacle.

"The fans should really get down before kick-off, traffic will be pretty congesting. But when they get there, there will be loads of activities for them to do at the European Champions arena."


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