Aviva Stadium bids for Heineken Cup Final


Lansdowne road’s new Aviva Stadium remains in contention to host the Heineken Cup final 2011 on May 21st 2011 despite the UEFA Europa League final taking place at the stadium just three days beforehand.

Martin Murphy, Aviva stadium director has confirmed the stadium can be flipped and rebranded between sporting events within 24 hours.
It is thought that the stadium had originally considered bidding for the Heineken Cup 2010 final however it was too close to the scheduled completion of construction.

The ERC won’t be making a decision on what venue will host the 2011 final until the week of this year’s decider in Paris. The 16th Heineken Cup season begins on the second weekend of October, and climaxes with the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals on the weekend of May 20th-22nd.

The ERC announced yesterday that the pool stages will again be played in three back-to-back blocks in October, December and January.

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Pubs to open on Good Friday


Pubs in Limerick have been given permission by the courts to open on Good Friday this year.
A group of publicans made an application to the court to be allowed to sell alcohol on Good on the grounds that a Magners League rugby match at Thomond Park between Munster and Leinster was a ‘special event’.

The special exemption from the law that bans the sale of alcohol in Ireland on Godd Friday allows the sale of drink between the hours of 6pm and 11.30pm.
The match kicks off at 8.05pm on the evening of Good Friday.

The state had opposed the application on the grounds that it was not a special event but rather an event taking place on a special day. 

O’Gara to captain British & Irish Lions


Ireland flyhalf and twice Heineken Cup winning number 10, Ronan O’Gara, will captain The Lions against the Emerging Springboks in tomorrow night’s clash  at Newlands.

O’Gara will be the fifth different, and fourth Irish, skipper on the tour of South Africa.
Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Phil Vickery and Donncha O’Callaghan all having had the honour so far.

Munster Rugby‘s O’Gara leads a side that contains six players who were involved the first Test against world champions South Africa last Saturday where they lost 26-21.

The side includes props Tim Payne and Munster’s John Hayes, who were only recently summoned to join the tour party.

Tomorrow’s game will be the Lions’ final midweek fixture of their 10-match tour and comes four days before the second Test that they must win to have any chance of claiming the series. That game takes place in the altitude of Pretoria on Saturday at 3pm local time (1pm Irish time)

Munster Rugby – The Treble is on!


Following the historic success of Ireland in the 6 nations last weekend, the vision in Munster Rugby circles has switched to dreams of a Treble for so many of the Munster players.

This is not to disrespect in any way whatsoever the achievement of Ireland and the contribution of non-Munster players. In fact it was a source of great pride to see the national team play as one again and dispelling talk of internal cliques.

The reality is, however, that for 11 Munster players who played for Ireland during the 2009 6 nations championship there is an opportunity to complete an unprecedented treble this year.
1. The Grand-Slam has already been done with Ireland
2. They are leading the Magners League
3. They have qualified for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup and are currently 7-4 favourites to retain it with PaddyPower

Retaining the Heineken Cup will not be easy and they have some difficult games ahead of them but they  never had it easy either in 2006 or 2008 when they emerged victorious. Now that the stereotype of the Irish good loser has been blown away for ever, the sky is the limit!

Soccer in Thomond park?, the home of Munster Rugby


Thomond Park, the home of Munster rugby, could play host to a high profile soccer competition in summer 2009.

The newley revamped venue in Limerick was recently approved by UEFA for use as a soccer venue and Munster Rugby bosses are already believed to be in negotiation with clubs from the Premier League in England and La Liga in Spain with a view to hosting a tournament next summer.

Sources close to the negotiations have said that they hope to have details finalised before the New Year.

O’Gara to captain Munster against Scarlets


Ronan O’Gara will captain Munster as they resume their Magners League journey against the LLanelli Scarlets on Friday night.

Coach Tony McGahan has selected 7 of the players that were involved for Ireland last weekend against Argentina in a clear indication of how seriously Munster are taking the Magners League this season.

Keith Earls will partner Lifeimi Mafi in the centre with Paul Warwick dropping back to full back.

THE MUNSTER TEAM

P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, I Dowling; R O’Gara, T O’Leary; M Horan, F Sheahan, T Buckley; D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll; D Ryan, N Ronan, D Leamy.

On the Bench: D Fogarty, F Pucciariello, J Coughlan, J O’Sullivan, P Stringer, B Murphy, A Horgan