Street party wills on Munster

THE Thomond Park cocktail of the raucous and the polite gripped Limerick’s O’Connell Street during Saturday’s epic European Cup final.

Up to 30,000 people viewing the game on two giant screens cheered their hearts out.

But that old tradition of respect and silence for the kickers of penalties from both sides sporadically punctuated the street din with surreal effect.

It was a marvellous family day. Toddlers wheeled along to the city centre in buggies will be told in years to come they were part of one of the great days in Irish sport.

At half time, You’re A Star winner Leanne Moore gave a poignant rendition of a song written by Jamie Bridgeman, aged 16.

Jamie, from Ardnacrusha explained the background to the song.

“My two cousins Leanne Miller and Robin O’Riordan, who were both 16, were killed in a car accident last summer.

“We were on holiday in France at the time and on the way home for the funeral I wrote a song to Leanne and Robin. Today Leanne Moore is singing it for the first time in their memory.”

Sharon Collins from Hilltop in Limerick was early in order to get a good spot near one of the big screens with her children Jack, 7 and Elisabeth 9.

Sharon said: “All my family have come here to see the game. My brother Mark who lives in Cork and his girlfriend are here. He wouldn’t miss the Limerick atmosphere on a day like today.”

As the TV images of a red-washed Limerick came up on screen, the crowds heaved with delight, annihilating the contra scenes from the main square in Toulouse.

For Roger Sheehan from Parteen, it was a moment to savour.

“I couldn’t get to Cardiff but this is just magical. I am here with my son Joshua. I missed the last final when Munster won two years ago as I was at work in the sorting office in the post office.”

After the final whistle, the party transferred to the pubs and restaurants around the city centre.

Hotels were booked out with the huge avalanche of visitors wishing to absorb the Limerick rugby magic.

Even one group from Wales went against the flow and booked into Punch’s Hotel.

Philip Davies, a Swansea barman said: “For years we have been coming to Limerick for the Wales international games at Lansdowne Road. So instead of going down the road to Cardiff, we got the ferry over and came to Limerick.” Cork homecoming

MORE than 50,000 people are expected to welcome their Munster heroes home to Cork tomorrow night.

The Munster squad and officials will be accorded a civic reception with Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Damian Wallace in City Hall at 7pm.

They will then take to a stage at Parnell Place to greet fans from 8pm.

Given the large numbers expected to attend, Cork City Council will also erect a large screen showing events in South Mall.

Live entertainment will be provided during the evening and traffic diversions are expected in the city from midday.

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