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Heineken Cup Preview

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The final of the Heineken Cup kicks off this Saturday, the 23rd of May. RTÉ Radio rugby commentator Michael Corcoran first toured with the Irish rugby team in 2000, when they travelled to Argentina, USA and Canada. He has completed two British and Irish Lions tours, to Australia in 2001 and to New Zealand in 2005. Michael Corcoran began his broadcasting career with RTÉ Radio Cork. He was acknowledged before a Heineken cup game in May 2008 as it was the 123rd game he has commentated on in the competition. 135 this weekend

The fourteenth Heineken Cup final will be contested between first time finalists Leinster and fifth time finalists Leicester Tigers after they both beat the odds at the semi-final stage.

The all-Ireland semi-final was only supposed to go one way - and that was the way of the defending champions and newly crowned Magners League winners Munster, but, Leinster put in the performance of a lifetime to keep their dream alive.

And Leicester Tigers were playing the form team in Europe in their home city. Not many had given them a chance of stopping the Cardiff Blues'12 game winning streak in cup rugby this season. Toulouse had tried and failed in the quarter-final at the same venue a few weeks before and Gloucester had tumbled at Twickenham eight days earlier as Cardiff were crowned EDF champions.

Leinster tire of never lifting the silver trophy that represents the zenith of club rugby. They have been so close, so many times. Four times beaten semi-finalists, and now a shot at the big prize. It is a moment many in the squad have been waiting for for many a year. The stage is set, the home of Scottish rugby is almost sold out. May 23 is marked in everyone's dairy. The fourteenth season of European rugby will draw to a close at approximately 5.50, unless there is a repeat of that famous epic semi final. Only time will tell as the two best teams in the tournament tussle to become the Heineken Cup champions.

Leinster, Ireland and Lions

Can Leinster cap a wonderful year for Irish rugby with a Heineken Cup final win on Saturday? RTE's rugby commentator Michael Corcoran talks us through the big match.

We've seen a Grand Slam victory and an Irish captain of the Lions, but can Ireland make it a perfect year for Irish rugby with Leinster adding a Heineken cup final victory?

Leinster: Leinster is a club team. They are made up of mostly Irish players, although this is not essential to be Irish. They have 7 players from overseas including two of their most important players Felipe Contepomi (Argentina) and Rocky Elsom (Australia). They play against other club teams from Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the Magners League and clubs from England, France, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the Heineken Cup.

Ireland: The Irish team is only Irish players and they play against other nations in the 6 Nations every year and the World Cup every four years.

British and Irish Lions: The British and Irish Lions is a rugby team made up of players from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. They select the cream of the crop from these four nations and bring them on tour every four years to play against the famous Southern Hemisphere teams (New Zealand, South Africa and Australia) where they play 3 matches against one of these sides. This year they are heading to South Africa and will be playing three games against South Africa. 13 of the 35 players this year are Irish, the most from any of the 4 nations.

Leinster squad to face Leicester at Murrayfield on Saturday, 23 May:
Forwards: Cian Healy, Ronan McCormack, John Fogarty, Bernard Jackman, Stephen Knoop, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O'Kelly, Devin Toner, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Backs: Chris Keane, Simon Keogh, Chris Whitaker, Jonathan Sexton, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney, Gordon D'Arcy, Fergus McFadden, Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan, Girvan Dempsey, Isa Nacewa.