FORGET the traditional tide of green jerseys – at this sporting exodus yesterday, Dublin airport turned to a sea of blue. Just don't mention the red of Munster.
Thousands of Leinster fans poured through the departures lounge, giving a taste of the frenzied atmosphere to come.
Such was the interest in the Heineken Cup final that 20 extra planes were scrambled, with Taoiseach Brian Cowen even travelling on a scheduled flight leaving the government jet at home.
We had Croke Park, we had Cardiff, but yesterday it was all about Edinburgh, that beckoning Scottish city where, the travelling throngs could only hope, more Irish glory would be delivered.
"I don't think O'Driscoll is going to allow them to lose," said David Fassbender (27) who joined the hopeful hordes streaming through check-in with girlfriend Ellie Byrne (24).
The Sandymount couple were setting off on a one-day whirlwind trip courtesy of her father Pat. "We are doing a quick one, so we will enjoy Edinburgh for a few hours and then come back. We will enjoy the supporters there and at home," said David.
Although eager to reach the Scottish capital, Ellie was not without a little doubt: "Getting a ticket has been fantastic but there is a bit of guilt there because there are definitely more hardcore fans out there than me," she admitted.
But no matter who you are, lifelong fan or passing proponent, this morning offered all the promise of a day to remember, even for those who struggled to make the crossing.
"I had three tickets cancelled and I finally got a call," said Paul Harris from Sandyford breathing a sigh of relief in the departures hall with his son Harry (10).
"We had a bit of a drama because Harry had no passport. We spent the last three days in the passport office and we only got it yesterday. I think he would have divorced his father if he didn't get it, so I'm hoping after that jinx the flight will be okay."
The hardcore were also out in force, conversations about front rows and props, fly halfs and forwards, echoing through the terminal.
Move over George Hook, John Hickey (24) from Rathfarnham had it all worked out. "I think we will shade it. I think it's going to be very important that we play very well in the back row and if we can get parity in the front five then we have a very good chance," he said.
The sentiments were echoed by his friend Frank Cunneen (29) from Booterstown. "It's probably going to be down to the first few minutes," he said. "If we can keep up the defence and pressure and if Johnny Sexton brings his kicking boots to give us a lead by half time it should be enough."
But no one needs analysis to work out that this was the start of another potentially glorious day for Irish sport.
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