Updated Thursday, 15.30
UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN living under a rock for the past few weeks, you will probably be aware that Ireland’s rugby-supporting population is gearing up for what could be a historic weekend.
At 5pm on Saturday afternoon in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Leinster take on the Northampton Saints in the final of the 2011 Heineken Cup – and TheScore.ie will be there.
Sick of listening to Niall moan about how he missed out on Edinburgh in 2009, we’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and blow what’s left of this year’s budget on sending him to the Welsh capital for this weekend’s festivities.
Naturally, he was delighted when we told him. The smile quickly receded though when we informed him that there was only about €100 left in the kitty and that getting to and from Cardiff wouldn’t quite be the luxurious experience that some of his more esteemed press-box colleagues might be used to.
So, we’ll be cutting him loose early on Friday afternoon and sticking him on a bus to Rosslare. All going according to plan, he should hit Cardiff at about 4am on Saturday morning which leaves him with, em, 13 hours or so to kill before the game kicks-off and the boys in blue (hopefully) begin to write another chapter of history.
And, courtesy of the wonderful medium of liveblog and one of those nifty little mobile internet dongles, you’ll be able to follow him every step of the way. Literally (thanks Jamie).
This is where you, dear reader, come in. We need your help in compiling a list of things for Niall to see and do in Cardiff on Saturday. If you’re planning on going, or if you’ve been there before, send us on your suggestions. Where are the best restaurants and bars in Cardiff? Are there any sights that we really shouldn’t miss out on?
Feel free to think outside the box as well. We might even end up creating a make-shift scavenger hunt so all suggestions are welcome, provided that they remain close to the boundaries of legality – we do need Niall to report from the match after all.
Readers, we place all of our trust in you. Let’s get cracking.
Here are the best suggestions received so far …
#CHAMPIONS VILLAGE: Based in Cardiff Arms Park which is right next to the stadium. Lots of bars, food, music and the chance to get your photo taken with the Heineken Cup if you like. Free admission.
#SUPPORTERS CLUB: The Official Leinster Supporters Club (OLSC) will have a base on Mary Street with bars, food, music and TVs. Open before and after the game.
#FOOD: If the weather is good, keep an eye out for pubs putting on barbecues before the match.
#DRINK: If you’re into crowds and want to mingle, most of the fans will be out in the city centre, but there are a number of more pleasant options on Cathedral Rd, which isn’t too far from the stadium on the opposite side from the city centre. A recommendation is the Cayo Arms, which serves a good variety of different Welsh beers.
Ben advises you to steer clear of O’Neill’s on Mary Street, unless you want to be surrounded by loads of smelly Irish fans.
After the game, try the Old Brewery Quarter. It’s a fairly modern development on the site of the old Brains Brewery. Serves good beer.
Thanks to Chris Mansfield and Ben Blake for the above suggestions.