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Next stop France ... as Leinster fans party over big Blues win

THOUSANDS of Leinster fans were today booking trips to France for their team's clash with Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup semi-final.

Blues fans were in seventh heaven on Saturday afternoon after seeing their team demolish Cardiff Blues at the Aviva.

Some 50,340 fans packed the stadium to see the home side thrash the Welsh visitors by 34-3.

The team's fans now have high hopes of reaching the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham on May 19.

"The match was great," said Mairead Slye, from Clonsilla.

"We've had tickets booked for Twickenham since Christmas, so here's hoping."

"I can't wait for Twickenham," added Orla Duff, from Terenure. "I'm very confident."

Declan Ballance and sons Sean (13), and eight-year-old Joe, from Dalkey, are season ticket-holders and diehard Leinster fans.

"I thought the match was great," Sean told the Herald.

Couple David Shanny and Karen Furley, from Artane, were also impressed by their side.

"It was my first time at the Aviva," said Karen, "and it was amazing. I'll definitely be back."

Cardiff Blues fan James Hughes, from Newtown, Wales, admitted that the Welsh side didn't stand a chance.

"You gave us one penalty and then thought, 'that's it, we'll have them'," he joked.

With Cardiff still smarting from an embarrassing 31-3 loss to Glasgow the week before, Leinster fans had a

great confidence-boost in the shape of Brian O'Driscoll.

"It was absolutely brilliant to see Brian back," said Martin O'Hanlon, from Carlow. "The highlight for

me was Brian O'Driscoll

scoring that try. It was the most exciting part," said Greg Dalton, from Sandyford.

Cian Healy was made Man of the Match, but some thought Rob Kearney was the real star.

"Our whole back line were flawless," said Rachel Agnew, from Drimnagh.

"But Rob Kearney should have got Man of the Match."


Meanwhile, there was heartbreak for Munster fans yesterday as Ulster became only the second team to beat the red army at their home ground in a Heineken Cup clash.

In a sea of red jerseys and rousing renditions of the Fields Of Athenry, it was the thousands of hardcore Ulster supporters who made the most noise in the Limerick stadium throughout the quarter-final yesterday.

Although Paul O'Connell's men managed to scrape back from 19-0 at half-time, it wasn't enough from the home side and captain Rory Best ran out winners with a 22-16 scoreline at the final whistle.