SPORT — 23 April 2013

By Damian Dolan

Thanks toMunsterthe romance of the Heineken Cup is alive and well, and so too are hopes of Irish representation atDublin’s Aviva Stadium on May 18.

Three in a row chasing Leinster fluffed their lines and Ulster suffered more Twickenham heartache, so it’s left to Munster – five years after the second of their to Heineken Cup triumphs – to fly the flag for the provinces at the weekend.

Like a punch drunk fighter, his best days behind him and desperate for a comeback at any price,Munsterhave somehow dragged themselves to the brink of a third final.

Twice beaten in the pool stages, away to Racing Metro in round 1 and at Saracens in round 4,Munsterscrapped into the quarter-finals by the skin of their teeth, and at the expense ofLeinsteras it turned out.

Although not the force of old, Harlequins inadvertently paid them the greatest compliment they could by steadfastly refusing to cash in onMunster’s army of followers and switching the game to a bigger venue, and reaping the financial reward.

Harlequins did just that in 2005 and were duly beaten 18-10. Lesson learnt, they crammed an additional 200 seats into the Twickenham Stoop to meet the ERC’s minimum capacity criteria. It didn’t work.

For more see this week’s edition of the Irish World

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