Tuesday 23 July 2019

Drive for five: 'Optimistic' Leinster fans travel in droves in bid to conquer Europe again

Hazel Brown from Dublin and Denise O'Brien from Wexford pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle.
Pic:Mark Condren 10.5.2019
Hazel Brown from Dublin and Denise O'Brien from Wexford pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle. Pic:Mark Condren 10.5.2019
Stuart and his son Matthew (10) Whitton from Malahide pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle. Pic:Mark Condren 10.5.2019
Rory Tevlin

Rory Tevlin

HORDES of confident Leinster fans poured through Dublin Airport as the momentum gathered behind the club's drive for five.

The boys in blue are chasing a fifth title and history tomorrow evening in Newcastle but face a Saracens juggernaut that choked the life out of Munster in their semi-final.

The word on every Leinster fans’ lips today at Dublin Airport was ‘tight’ and that is certainly how the bookmakers view this clash.

But with the carrot of becoming the most successful side ever if they win, the travelling hordes were optimistic Johnny Sexton and Co can pull it off.

Damian Howard from Cork, Matt Gallagher from Raheny. Luke and Derek Bray from Coolock pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle.
Pic:Mark Condren. 10.5.2019
Damian Howard from Cork, Matt Gallagher from Raheny. Luke and Derek Bray from Coolock pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle. Pic:Mark Condren. 10.5.2019

Father and son Stuart and Matthew Whitton from Malahide, Co Dublin were bullish about Leinster's chances.

Matthew (10), who is coached by his father on the under-11s at Malahide Rugby Club, predicted a 39-5 drubbing for Sarries.

Stuart said: “This is my second final but it is Matthew’s first. It is his first away game but we go to all the home games.”

Matthew added: “It is my birthday in 12 days time so this trip is my present.”

Greg Hanlon from Naas pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle.
Pic:Mark Condren
10.5.2019
Greg Hanlon from Naas pictured before departing Dublin Airport ahead of Leinster's show down against Saracen's in the Heineken champions Cup final in Newcastle. Pic:Mark Condren 10.5.2019

Greg Hanlon (42) from Naas, Co Kildare used the 'T' word to describe Leinster’s hopes.

He said: "It will be tight I think. I saw the team today though and I am feeling confident. It's a good team and a good bench.

"I was there in 2009 and 2011 but I missed 2012. This will be my third final.

"Toner has got that semi final match under his belt too so will be better for it.”

Newcastle is a city more known for its beloved soccer club and they have always embraced a maverick talent.

For friends Matt Gallagher (45) from Raheny, north Dublin, Damien Howard (37) from Cork and father and son Derek and Luke Bray, from Coolock, north Dublin this will be their tenth European final.

And they believe it will be Leinster’s Kiwi maverick James Lowe who will make the  difference at the end.

Matt told Independent.ie: “I think we will win but they are going to be very strong.

“Farrell is the one to watch for them.

“James Lowe and Fardy will be key for Leinster though. Lowe is just awesome.

Derek added: “He has that X Factor.”

Friends Hazel Brown (34) from Dublin and Denise O’Brien (33) from Wexford were going the long way round to the north-east via London, but they don’t care once they arrive on time.

Hazel said: “I think it will be tight but if we can win at the breakdown then that will go a long way.

“Garces, the ref, will be important. If Saracens are allowed to live offside then that will be a problem.”

If Leinster can topple the English kingpins it will be the fourth time the pals have witnessed Leinster claiming the title.

But they were also looking forward to sampling some of Newcastle’s famed night life after the match.

Denise explained: “We are dying to go to Pop World, they play all cheesy dance music.

“The atmosphere at these games is always great once the final whistle goes.”

With more flights set to ferry in reinforcements clad in blue today the fans will make their presence felt on Tyneside.

They will be hoping to witness something special, but everyone is in agreement, it is going to be tight.

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