Sport Rugby

Friday 20 September 2019

Brian O'Driscoll: Munster flags flew from pubs in our city but Croker clash changed everything

Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll on his way to scoring his side's third try in the 25-6 win over Munster in the Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park in 2009. Photo: David Conachy
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll on his way to scoring his side's third try in the 25-6 win over Munster in the Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park in 2009. Photo: David Conachy

Joe South

Brian O'Driscoll has revealed that the historic Heineken Cup semi-final win over Munster at Croke Park in May 2009, which sparked the beginning of a golden era for Leinster, was a "marker" against their biggest rivals.

"We're up against the defending European champions," O'Driscioll writes in his autobiography 'The Test', "and we've lost to them twice already this season (2008/9).

"We've never been as nervous, but we're also sick of carrying the baggage of being losers when the chips are down, tired of unflattering comparisons with Munster.

"We want our own success, our own standards."

The semi-final at GAA Headquarters in front of a record 82,000 crowd was preceded by unprecedented success for the Red Army who were chasing their third European title in four years.

O'Driscoll had already suffered at the hands of the southerners in the 2006 semi-final at Landsdowne Road, when they were hammered 30-6. He was determined to turn the tide in the Blues' favour and rid the province of their 'soft' reputation.

"We have listened to guys with southside Dublin accents justify their allegiance to Munster on the basis of a mother born in Limerick, or a handful of childhood summers in Skibbereen.

"On match days we have driven past pubs in our own city with Munster flags flying above them, unchallenged."

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Leinster flew out of the blocks and blasted Munster 25-6 with O'Driscoll scoring a brilliant breakaway try having read a pass from his good friend Ronan O'Gara.

In the dying minutes O'Driscoll is determined not to let the momentum slip: "'They get nothing!' I tell them, as loudly as I can, so that some of the Munster guys can hear me. Because it's no longer about the game, it's about putting down a marker for the hereafter."

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