Irish fans confident of slaying the dragon
THE hype, the hope and the hoopla that signal a big-game cruncher put a spring in the step of Irish rugby fans as a sea of green flowed through Dublin Airport.
The mood was decidedly good-humoured as Irish supporters began a new Six Nations odyssey.
But despite the upbeat vibe, there was also a grim acceptance that the stakes could not be higher for what will be an all-out battle today. Fans know a largely new-look Irish side has to land a killer blow against the fiery Welsh in their own backyard.
The Irish team flew out on Thursday, but judging by the fervour of our fans for this particular battle, we will have some reserves in the vocal stakes when passions rage in the Cardiff cauldron.
All agreed that Lady Luck needs to smile on the Irish if they are to slay the Welsh dragon at the Millennium Stadium this time around.
Tom Rickerby from Carnew, Co Wicklow, was part of a scrum of supporters making the trip across the Irish Sea.
He said: "We're going to win it this time. We have some promising up-and-coming stars and they'll do the business for us."
And despite the axing of Brian O'Driscoll from the captaincy role, he believes there are enough potential leaders in the squad to step up to the plate.
However, Welsh expatriate Barbara Osbourne was confident of a home win. She said: "This is a real crunch tie but I think we have what it takes to win it.
"History is in our favour but when the pressure is on that's when we need to keep a cool head."