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Lads, you're welcome in my chateau, says true blue fan

MEET the Leinster man who's made it big in Bordeaux.

Chateau and vineyard manager Barry Duffy was one of the first to offer Leo Cullen and the Blues a place to stay when he heard they would be descending on the south-west French city for the Heineken Cup semi-final clash against Clermont.

The Goatstown native runs Irish-owned Chateau de la Ligne and gave the Herald an exclusive tour around its 12-hectare estate ahead of Sunday's game.

Barry (29), who moved to Bordeaux in 2009, had high hopes that coach Joe Schmidt and the Leinster boys would be staying on their grounds -- but the chateau had a previously scheduled event and had to cancel.

"We'd love to have had them over this weekend, but we didn't realise at the time that we'd an event booked in, so it just didn't work out. But we're hoping to have them all over during the summer at some stage and organise a local tournament or something.

"When we heard they were going to be here, we offered them the whole site. It would've been fantastic though.


"We're in countryside, but the city's not far, so it's well-positioned and they could train in the area without being hassled," said Barry, who is married to Lisa Cross, daughter of the chateau owner.

A Leinster lion through and through, he "can't wait" to see the boys in action.

"I'll definitely be watching the match on Sunday -- it turns out I can't actually go because I'll be working, but it'll be on all the TVs and we're heading straight into town afterward to have a few pints with everyone from home ... rugby is really big here and it's great craic."

And he admitted he would love to meet sporting legend Brian O'Driscoll. "He lives very near my parents, only around the corner, so I've spotted him a number of times."

Barry and his team have made sure every part of the chateau includes some Irish influence, down to the Celtic cross in the driveway or the official 'Dublin' suite.

"I miss Ireland, I love to get back -- it's nice to catch up with everyone every once in a while and not have to worry about speaking French. But usually, the sun plays a big factor here for me, I love the weather in Bordeaux."