Ireland’s forwards versus the backs

Great match this afternoon. It’s on RTE radio and Television and Sky Sports Three. It’s being pitched as the working class Munstermen versus the prawn sandwich eating south siders.

  • Rubicon

    The winner today must be the favourite to take the Heineken Cup.

    For myself, I’ll be backing the men in red – the best supported team in Europe – but luck has never been a lady in this competition for Munster. Since it’s not raining today perhaps the Leinster Ladies may see some support but expect the “Fields of Athenry” will roar out of the terraces.

    (Still think this is a cunning Leinster plot to produce a huge undercount in the census for Limerick & Cork – to Leinster’s benefit!).

  • páid

    you would have thought that with all of munster to pick from, they wouldn’t need a connacht song. But then I have met munster fans…..

  • Rubicon

    Athenry is a real place, Trevelyan a real person. Athenry is an 800-year-old town in Galway. Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan was the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury during the Great Famine when he was in charge of famine relief in Ireland. The corn was probably Indian corn, imported from America and sold to the Irish at prices which prohibited the penniless poor from getting any. (http://www.planet-rugby.com/Tournaments/Six_Nations/story_48634.shtml).

    Of the provinces, Munster made this song their own but it also features as the most popular song of supporters during Ireland’s rugby matches. All Ireland suffered from the famine but it was worst felt in the west – particularly the provinces of Connacht and Munster.

    If Connacht supporters were the only ones allowed to sing this song I doubt many would know it! A great song … second only to “Land Of My Fathers” in raising a rugby crowd.

    The modern version of the song was written by a Dubliner (Pete St. John) – another irony? Not really …

    Looking forward to hearing “the Fields …” sang loudly as Munster enter the finals for the 3rd time. 3rd time lucky – I hope!

  • Rubicon

    Hey PID – half time, the reds 16-3 ahead and I guess the “Fields of Athenry” can be heard in Connacht!

    The Leinster Ladies seem to be no match for the Munster Men!

  • Rubicon

    Would be happy to hear from any disappointed optimist with a ticket to Cardiff!

    Meanwhile – excuse me while I sing “the fields” – the finest day in Irish club rugby!

    By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling
    “Michael, they have taken you away,
    For you stole Trevelyan’s corn,
    So the young might see the morn.
    Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.”

    Chorus

    Low lie the fields of Athenry
    Where once we watched the small free birds fly
    Our love was on the wing
    We had dreams and songs to sing
    It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

    By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young man calling
    “Nothing matters, Mary, when you’re free
    Against the famine and the crown,
    I rebelled, they cut me down.
    Now you must raise our child with dignity.”

    By a lonely harbour wall, she watched the last star fall
    As the prison ship sailed out against the sky
    For she lived to hope and pray for her love in Botany Bay
    It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

  • Dr Strangelove

    superb performance by Munster but Leinster were really quite poor, a shadow of the team which beat Toulouse.

    Not too sure if the forward dominated play from Munster will be enough to stifle Barritz, hopefully they can do it… should be a cracking final.

  • Eugene

    I was glad to see Munster win and hope they win the final. I have difficulty deciding on who to support when watching European/Celtic Rugby. Id like to support Ulster but feel alienated as their fans fly the “six county” red and white flag rather than the correct Ulster flag which is yellow and red.

  • smcgiff

    ‘but feel alienated as their fans fly the “six county” red and white flag rather than the correct Ulster flag which is yellow and red.’

    Oh no, lets not.

    Great match yesterday. It does really appear as if the weeklong joke came true.

    ‘The Leinster fans sold their tickets to Munster fans because they knew there was a sale on in Brown Thomas.’

    Even though each Province received 21,400 tickets I’d wager there were 4 red shirts to 1 blue shirt.

    The final will be tricky, and would be heart breaking to lose a third.

    You know what, Rubicon, in the same way that Rowntree’s would have you believe it’s impossible not to chew their fruit pastilles, it’s impossible to READ the fields of Athenry without SINGING it (in my head, for which my colleagues should be very grateful).

    Altogether now, Low Lie the fields…

  • Seamus

    Were you there or were you watching it on the telly? From my perch on the South Terrace, I’d estimate there were about 8 or 9 Munster fans to every one Leinster fan. It was only when Contepomi kicked the first penalty that we actually got to see where the Leinster fans were.

    I taped the match and watched it last night when I got home. RTE just kept focusing in on Leinster fans, so it gave the impression that they were there in greater numbers than they actually were.

    What a game! Paul O’Connell, ROG, John Hayes, the whole lot of them…liginds, boy! Liginds.

  • smcgiff

    I was the 16th player watching the TV. Although I reserve the right to claim to being there like many tens of thousands of others in the years to come, Gerry!

    ‘RTE just kept focusing in on Leinster fans, so it gave the impression that they were there in greater numbers than they actually were.’

    RTE used a very tight focus when showing the Leinster supporters, and if memory serves, it was the same patch of blue shirts!

    It must have been very disheartening to come out onto your home ground and be so outnumbered by terraces of mucksavages.

    If I were a less generous soul, one could have shouted, ‘Are you watching Bertie Ahern, Jonathon Swift, Bob Geldof, Edward Carson :), Mary Robinson, Are you watching Bertie Ahern!’

  • “It must have been very disheartening to come out onto your home ground and be so outnumbered by terraces of mucksavages.”

    When Munster came out for the warm-up, their fans welcomed them in full voice. No-one noticed when Leinster came out. It was that sort of day.

  • mikerob

    Munster “the best supported team in Europe” ?

    Munster are the fifth-best supported team in the Celtic League with Ulster (9000+ average home gate for this season), Llanelli, Cardiff and the Ospreys all averaging more than Munster’s 6000 or so crowds.

    Munster would be the worst supported club in the English Guinness Premiership with their league home gates.

    Fair play to the Munster fans for turning up en masse for the glamour European games, but the same fans are strangely missing when it comes to a bread and butter league game on wet weekend in Limerick or Cork.

  • mikerob

    “I have difficulty deciding on who to support when watching European/Celtic Rugby. Id like to support Ulster but feel alienated as their fans fly the “six county” red and white flag rather than the correct Ulster flag which is yellow and red.”

    Eugene – the “flags” issue is debated frequently and at length on Ulster rugby fan sites (see http://www.uafc.co.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2278 for a recent discussion)

    I won’t rehash the discussion here, but you can see there is a range of opinion including aesthetics.

    I would hope that you supporting Ulster isn’t stopped by a flag – just as flags shouldn’t stop Ulstermen supporting the Irish rugby team.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Munster are the fifth-best supported team in the Celtic League with Ulster (9000+ average home gate for this season), Llanelli, Cardiff and the Ospreys all averaging more than Munster’s 6000 or so crowds.’

    Unlike Ulster, Munster supporters don’t have the opportunity to see their A team take part in the Celtic league. 5th best support for the B team aint half bad.

    Hopefully Munster will be the first team from the island of Ireland to win the strengthened Heineken league on the 20th of May.

  • mikerob

    “Unlike Ulster, Munster supporters don’t have the opportunity to see their A team take part in the Celtic league.”

    11 out of 15 from Sunday’s team played for Munster vs. The Borders at Thomond Park in September last year. The crowd? 3,500.

    I do hope that Munster win against Biarritz in May to become the second team from Ireland to win the European Cup – I’ve got tickets for the final and will be cheering them on in Cardiff.

  • Mikerob –

    Never mind the numbers, it’s the quality of the support that counts. ;o)

    I was at the HC semi-final three years ago between Leinster and Perpignan at Lansdowne Road. The atmosphere was completely dead. In contrast, I was at the Harlequins-Munster pool game in Twickenham back in January 2005. There was about 30,000 at that game (a record for a pool game that still stands iirc), the overwhelming majority supporting Munster. “The Fields” rang out several times that afternoon, and this wasn’t a backs-to-the-wall, do-or-die fixture by any means.

    Just because they don’t turn out in their thousands for every Celtic League fixture doesn’t mean they aren’t the best fans!

  • mikerob

    In most sports the “best fans” are the ones that DO follow their team week-in, week-out, glamour games and bread-and-butter fixtures, good times and bad. Surely the Munster fans aren’t a bunch of bandwagon-jumpers, are they?

    I was at the Quins game in 2005 myself – a good day out but a desperate game of rugby. I have the feeling Cardiff will be similar – a fantastic occasion but given Biarrtiz are probably the most negative side in the competition, I’m not expecting a great game.

  • To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a great game yesterday. I thought it would be a cagey, low-scoring contest. Happily, it wasn’t. (But then I am a Munster fan, and therefore hopelessly biased.)

    Finals are often poor quality games, because neither team wants to be the one that makes the error that costs them the title. Hopefully Munster will do what they do best and squeeze the life out of Biarritz up front, prevent them from getting the ball, and get the scores from that.

    I know what you mean about regular support, but I think it’s fair to say that Munster draw a huge amount of support from outside the heartlands of Limerick and Cork. They have a lot of supporters all over Ireland and beyond. Have a look at the forum on the Munster website and you’ll see what I mean. As my wife is from Cork and we live in Dublin, we go there regularly to visit her parents. If we know there is a Celtic League match on in Musgrave Park, we sometimes do a POETS (Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday), and get there in time for the kick-off. But we can’t do that too often, and so don’t go to as many as we would like. If we lived in Limerick or Cork, we’d probably go to more.

    Unfortunately, I won’t be going to Cardiff, and may not even see the final, as I will be travelling back from a work-related trip to Spain.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    A Chairde,

    I’ve decided i’m not a Republican anymore. Im a Royalist. I want Paul O Connell to be crowned King of Ireland, so us mere mortals can worship at the feet of the greatest human being (or God?) to ever take to a sportsfield.

    God Save King O Connell

  • smcgiff

    I’ll remain republican, DB.

    I vote O’Gara for perpetual president!

  • Jack

    Gerry, you really are such a tosser. Do you really think we care about your trip to spain, or how you’d like to go to more matches