x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Irish eyes smiling after European victory

Leinster are crowned European champions for the first time after edging a thrilling cup final against Leicester at Murrayfield.

Leinster captain Leo Cullen claimed it was good to put past disappointments behind them after beating Leicester 19-16 to win the Heineken Cup at Murrayfield. Cullen led his side to victory in a tight match that could have gone either way before Leinster marked their debut in the final with a win, joining fellow Irish provinces Ulster and Munster as European champions. Ben Woods' try had given two-time champions Leicester an interval lead but Jamie Heaslip's superb score helped level matters before the excellent Johnny Sexton sealed victory with a long-range penalty.

Sexton also scored a monster drop goal, Brian O'Driscoll dropped a goal as well, while Julien Dupuy kicked the Tigers' other points. Cullen added: "It's been some pretty tough times over the last couple of years. We've had some disappointing days. "When you've had a bit of hurt in the past, when you get the win it makes it that little bit sweeter. "The boys showed great spirit coming back into it. It was a great win. We've always been a bit disappointing on the big day. "It wasn't pretty at times but that's finals I suppose."

The man of the match Rocky Elsom added: "I think there wasn't a lot in it. I'm pretty elated. That's a pretty good end to a great season." The Leinster centre O'Driscoll hailed his team's efforts in overcoming the might of Leicester. He said: "I just felt we had great resilience; we backed our defence all year. We've been poor in attack at times but got it together over the last couple of months."

Asked how it felt for Leinster to break their Heineken Cup duck, O'Driscoll added: "It feels great. I've played for this team for 10 years and loved every minute of playing for them and it was worth the wait. (Winning the Heineken Cup) was a goal at the start of my career and I couldn't have done it with a better bunch of guys."

O'Driscoll gave British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan a scare when he appeared to suffer a shoulder injury, but reassured the Scot by saying: "I've been carrying it for a while. I'll be in a little bit of cotton wool for a while but then it'll be sorted." * PA Sport