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Blues are bang on the money

These are not the worst of times for a Leinster organisation in comparatively good financial health as the province grows increasingly used to being involved in big matches like tomorrow's Magners League final.

Irish rugby and the provinces under its umbrella have not entirely escaped the clutches of the recession, Leinster announcing a €341,988 loss for the tax year April-to-April at their AGM last night, but Leinster are not troubled by the current situation, as many factors have to be taken into consideration.

"We are very comfortable and confident about the state of our finances, given the recent investment in infrastructure," said a Leinster spokesperson last night.

It is logical that Leinster would suffer for the heavy investment in infrastructure, redeveloping Donnybrook and funding the age-grade and domestic club structures to the tune of €250,000 annually.

In addition, the tightening of the IRFU money belt means the number of Irish internationals funded by the union will drop from 30 to 21, thus moving financial responsibility for those nine players back to the provinces.

On a positive note, Leinster have already exceeded their season ticket target from last year, moving past the 11,000 mark in recent days. The 'early bird' season ticket offer will last until next Tuesday before the club reverts to selling full-price options for the rest of the summer.

There is a fine balance to be struck between the right and wrong side of the profit line, highlighted by Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan's free-to-air proposal to re-define Irish Rugby's relationship with their television partners. This was met head-on by IRFU claims of a loss of €12m to their kitty.

The proceeds from the gate intake for the Magners Grand final will be split three ways, the bulk of it going to Celtic League Limited and the remainder shared between Leinster and the Ospreys.

The completion of the Aviva Stadium will provide a larger honey pot for Leinster into the future, as a possible Magners League final venue, should the province maintain their consistency into the reign of incoming coach Josef Schmidt. For the moment it will be up to coach Michael Cheika and his band of players to keep the bandwagon rolling along by winning a second Magners League in three seasons.

Leinster, meanwhile, have three players named on the 2009/10 Magners League 'Dream Team' -- Brian O'Driscoll, Leo Cullen and Jamie Heaslip.

MAGNERS LEAGUE DREAM TEAM 2009/10: Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster), James Hook (Ospreys), Tim Visser (Edinburgh); Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors), Tomas O'Leary (Munster); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), 3 Adam Jones (Ospreys); Leo Cullen (Leinster), Ali Kellock (Glasgow Warriors); Jerry Collins (Ospreys), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).