There must have been a communications problem between the Munster rugby fans and the food sellers of Edinburgh yesterday afternoon as there was hardly a quail's egg or cucumber sandwich to be seen on any of the menus. Instead, the throngs of Leinster fans that had undertaken one of the last great migrations of the Celtic Tiger to the Heineken Cup final had to content themselves with the more traditional pre-match fare of Scotch pies, haggis neeps and tatties washed down by the odd gallon or three of the sponsor's finest yellow beer.
Ferry companies sailing from the North into the Ayrshire ports have reported a significant increase in business volume all week and it turned into a torrent in the last 48 hours. Five sailings a day from Belfast to Cairnryan, each carrying up to 300 cars, were fully booked out. The M8 from Glasgow to Edinburgh was clogged with Leinster-registered cars all day Friday.
Judging by the colours that thronged the centre of Edinburgh yesterday at lunchtime, blue jerseys seemed to outnumber the green and white of Leicester by at least two to one. A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Tourism said demand for accommodation was up by more than 33% since the last time the final was played there in 2005 and that bookings from Ireland had been flooding in since February. She didn't say what part of Ireland, though.
Surprisingly, there were still 500 tickets unsold for the game yesterday morning. A Cork accent in a bar was heard to point out that there was no such thing as unsold seats in any of "their finals".
Most of the travelling hordes, at least those from the eastern counties, seemed to have the same broad motivations and these were neatly summed up by Dubliner Colin Lynch, who flew into Edinburgh yesterday morning. "I'm here for three basic reasons," he explained. "To see Leinster win, to have a few scoops and I'm sick of the sight of Munster winning everything."