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Oh la la! City's pub owners throw open their arms to welcome an army of French invaders

With Clermont and Toulon going head-to-head today for the Heineken Cup Final, Dublin is experiencing a French invasion.

And Tom Mangan, owner of Doheny & Nesbitt's pub, says the flags are out and spirits are high.

"This is going to be an incredible match," he told the Herald. "We'll be packed to the rafters and the atmosphere will be electric."

"Rugby is the lifeblood of this pub and Toulon and Clermont are like Barcelonas of the rugby world. So there will be some great action on the pitch.

"French fans are very different to Irish fans," Tom says. "They tend not to be so rowdy. Having said that, Clermont and Toulon are southern teams – so they're less snobby than Parisians would be.

"They're more fun – they're not sticky. They want to enjoy themselves – they're a bit like Munster fans," he said.

More than 22,000 rugby fans have flocked to Dublin to see the match.

An additional 80 flights will touch down in the city and rugby fans will bring an estimated €21m into the economy.

While he's willing to welcome French fans with open arms, Offaly native Tom says he won't be serving up frogs' legs anytime soon. "We'll be steering clear of the berets, snails and frogs' legs."

"We'll stick to the traditional stuff," he says. "Bacon, cabbage, stew and Guinness and steak pie. That's what they want – you don't go to France to have coddle do you? So they'll want the traditional stuff."

Doheny & Nesbitt's is part of Heineken Cup heartland.

"We're on the rugby golden mile," Tom explains. "The golden mile goes all the way down from here to the Heineken Clubhouse in Ballsbridge Hotel. It's part of the whole Get In The Game campaign."

"They've really pushed the boat out this year – there will be astro pitches on the pavement to get people in the spirit of things. It'll be great craic," he says.

Doheny & Nesbitt's is one of Dublin's most iconic rugby pubs and a firm favourite with Leinster lads.

"Rugby is huge for us," Tom says. "We have Landsdowne, St Mary's and Terenure all round here."

"We have a good few of the players coming in – Johnny Sexton and Luke Fitzgerald. They say hello and we leave them be – we don't want to bother them, we want them to enjoy their pint."

hnews@herald.ie


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