By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — More than 30,000 Irish supporters are expected to pack into Twickenham in London on Saturday as Munster attempt to win rugby’s European Cup for the first time. Surprise victors over top French side Toulouse in a titanic semifinal in Bordeaux, Munster are now slight favorites to defeat the English club Northampton in the final.
Northampton have already lost their full-back, Nick Beal, with a broken leg, and their international scrum-half, Matt Dawson, is doubtful for the eagerly awaited game because of a shoulder injury. Munster’s only worry, meanwhile, is over hooker Keith Wood, who pulled a calf muscle against Toulouse.
Following Ulster’s remarkable success in the same competition last year, Munster have a golden opportunity to complete an historic two in a row for Ireland.
St. Mary’s became the first Dublin club in the history of the competition to win the All-Ireland Rugby League when they edged out Lansdowne 25-22 in a disappointing final at Lansdowne Road. With captain Trevor Brennan in impressive form, Mary’s went 22-9 in front during the second half when Victor Costello crashed over for a vital try.
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Lansdowne worked their way back into contention thanks to two Barry Everitt penalties, but Ray Niland’s injury time try was too late to prevent the St. Mary’s celebrations.