Irish on Top

Saturday  brings the final of Pro14 and it’s an all-Ireland affair as Leinster face off against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. It’s been a strange old year and this event is happening four whole months after it should have done.

On paper, it’s a bit of a mismatch as unbeaten Leinster (yes you read that correctly) face off against underdogs Ulster, bolstered by a mighty win over Edinburgh in the semi-final but largely unconvincing since play resumed after the Covid break.

When you add virtual home advantage into the equation, all signs point firmly to the trophy remaining in D4. But the delight of finals, particularly derby finals, is the form book goes out the window. At least, that’s what Ulster are hoping.

Another compelling factor is the strong Leinster contingent in the Ulster side; including semi hero Ian Madigan. How satisfying it would be for Ulster’s Dublin boys to upset the apple cart on their home patch.

But Leinster, as ever, look polished and have the really big guns, not just in Ireland but Europe. Sexton and co need little motivation to excel and accumulate silverware and normally deliver when it matters. With Saracens on the horizon, this game matters in more ways than one.

That said, the Ravenhill men have a glorious opportunity to not only make history but lay down a marker in the process. A chance to land their first trophy since 2006 and turn Leinster over in Dublin in the  process. That can’t be bad.

Nobody outside the camp expects Ulster to do it. All the pressure and expectation sits with the Blues. This is a shot to nothing. Dan McFarland’s side enter the fray as the ultimate underdogs. And that’s not the worst position to be in!

Either way, Irish domination of this competition continues. Exciting times with rugby back with a bang. In the rush to cram two seasons into one, we just hope player welfare doesn’t suffer too badly.

@rorymcgimpsey

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