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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019
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Hugh Cahill's New Zealand diary: Day 3

“Donal did mention that if one more fella came up to him with his tongue out shouting like a lunatic he was gonna knock him out. I was praying someone would…”

The opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

SO IT TURNS out the whispers I heard on the probable Ireland team to play the USA on Sunday came from a drunk four-year-old sheep.

I couldn’t have been further off…That aside though, I think it’s fantastic to see Conor Murray come in at scrum half for his first World Cup match.

I remember watching him line out for Garryowen just six months ago in the AIL.  What a rise he has had in such a short space of time and I really hope he plays well.

Donal Lenihan and I went for a coffee this morning to talk tactics ahead of the New Zealand-Tonga match and the streets of Auckland were absolutely insane.  Huge crowds were already out in force at 11.30am, waving jerseys and flags in the sunshine, beeping car horns and setting off fireworks as massive throngs of All Black fans made their way down to the Waterfront for the match party.

Organisers had planned for a maximum of 15,000 to watch the game on the giant screens but there were estimates of upwards of 25,000 planning to head down.  Tongans were in full voice too and the craic between the supporters was brilliant; Haka stand-offs in the middle of the street, native shouting matches everywhere you looked.  It was crazy stuff.

Donal did mention that if one more fella came up to him with his tongue out shouting like a lunatic he was gonna knock him out.  I was praying someone would…

Fireworks

We made our way down to Eden Park at about 5pm to take in the atmosphere and get ourselves ready.  I interviewed Kiwi legend Grant Fox before the game and I have to say he was an absolute gent.  He is still as passionate about the game as he was when pulling on the number 10 black jersey back in the 80s and 90s.

For those of you who saw the opening ceremony I think you’ll agree it was quite a show.  I’m not normally a fan of pre-tournament ceremony but the organisers here did a fantastic job.  It really set the pulses racing and created a fantastic atmosphere.  The game itself wasn’t bad; the Kiwis will probably go to town on their team over the next few days for not running in more tries but I thought the Tongans have really improved their fitness levels and I was delighted they managed to get over for a try.

We’re up at 5am tomorrow to make the five-hour drive to New Plymouth so I won’t see too much of the post-match party on the streets, but I can tell you it’s like a zoo out there at the moment.

Hopefully Ireland fans will have similar cause to celebrate on Sunday night! Until tomorrow…

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As it happened: All Blacks v Tonga

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About the author:

Hugh Cahill

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