IT WAS heartbreak for Tadhg Furlong and Leinster as a late converted try with the last play of the game in the final 60 seconds handed the European Cup title to La Rochelle in Marseille on Saturday.
Leinster had received the boost they had hoped for all week when the tighthead prop from Campile was declared fit to face the mammoth French side’s pack.
But at the end of the game, the players were lost for words as they tried to digest a 24-21 defeat, with former Irish international and Munster player, Ronan O’Gara, taking the plaudits for his coaching exploits with the winners.
While Leinster players were crestfallen on the final whistle, Furlong can feel well pleased with his contribution during his time on the pitch.
It was not an easy task, as he faced a mammoth La Rochelle front row, along with Andrew Porter and Rónan Kelleher.
Kelleher departed shortly after Leinster coughed up a 13th-minute penalty following a poor line-out throw, clearly not fully recovered from an injury that made him a doubtful starter earlier in the week.
While the front row appeared under pressure, with Furlong pitted against the mighty Priso, he pulled off a key tackle on Bourgarit, while he was also key in winning a scrum penalty on their own five-metre line close to the interval.
Furlong, while not as prominent in the loose because of the quality he was facing, still controlled his side of the scrum while also showed effectively in winning ruck ball.
Now the former New Ross clubman and his colleagues must put their European final disappointment behind them and look ahead to their URC league quarter-final against Glasgow this weekend, having failed to seize the moment in Marseille.