A dream come true for Tadhg
LEINSTER star Tadhg Furlong’s dream came true on Saturday when The Blues triumphed in Spain and he made the dreams of Good Counsel students come true when he posed for a celebratory photograph for his fans at 1 a.m. in Dublin Airport.
Furlong, who attended Good Counsel College, completed an impressive hat-trick of honours between his wins with Ireland and Leinster – as The Blues won their fourth European Cup with a 15-12 victory over French side Racing 92 in the San Mamés stadium in Bilbao.
Ten Good Counsel students who had been volunteering at orphanages in Belarus for a week couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the Leinster squad in the arrivals area, shortly after they had touched down.
Deputy principal Aidan O’Brien said: ‘The students had been over in Belarus with teachers Aoife Sutton and Kieran Barron. They met the Leinster team and Tadhg came across when he realised the group were from the college. It was a nice, neat co-incidence that our boys were going through the airport at the same time.’
Mr O’Brien said Tadhg has always been great to the school’s students.
‘When Ireland beat the All Blacks he brought in a jersey which now has pride of place in the college. He is one of our most decorated sportsmen along with Aidan O’Brien and Kevin Doyle. It wasn’t surprising in the least that he took the time to chat with the students, some of whom are big sports fans. It was a big thrill for the boys who did great work helping out at the orphanages.’
Furlong, 25, was after a bruising encounter with the French outfit, the Irish team only taking the lead for the first time in the 78th minute through an Isa Nacewa penalty, and withstood a late Racing surge to win their first European Cup since 2012.
The win also ensured Leinster kept up their 100 per cent winning record in European finals, having previously won the competition in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
‘It was a weird game of rugby,’ the Leinster and Ireland tighthead Furlong told BT Sport.
‘There wasn’t a whole lot of rugby played. It was kind of stop-start, neither team got in a flow.
We didn’t have the ball or play with the ball the way we wanted to. We’re delighted to come out on the right side of the result and it’s amazing for this bunch of players.’
Furlong acknowledged that this victory was important for Leinster’s younger generation of players who hadn’t yet tasted success in Europe, and have been building to this moment for several years.
‘This is my first ever European Cup, there’s some lads now on four and as a younger player within the squad its nice to have given the pedigree the club have in Europe. We’ve been working up to this for the last two years. We had disappointment in the semi-final last year, and in the semi-final of the Pro 12 as well. It’s an amazing feeling.’
He said representing Wexford means a massive amount to him. ‘I have got incredible support from the club back home in New Ross, from the people of Horsewood and Campile over the years. You flicker back and you know that and you don’t want to let them down, and that means a lot to me,’ he said in an interview with the Irish Independent.
BELOW: Tadhg with Jordi Murphy, left, and Rob Kearney after the match on Saturday.