Belfast Telegraph

Rugby cup dream comes to an end

Tears filled Irish eyes as rugby fans watched their world cup dream come to an end.

The sea of green that packed New Zealand's Wellington Regional Stadium is preparing to make the long trip home after Wales beat Ireland 22-10 in the quarter-final.

And fans watching the clash in homes and bars at home hoped the disastrous early-morning result was merely a bad dream.

Anne Keogh, 42, from Firhouse in Tallaght, said: "I'm absolutely gutted, but the best team won.

"The boys did us proud. They lifted the country out of the recession and gave us something to talk about other than the presidential campaign."

She was among more than 500 fans packed into famous rugby pub Kielys of Donnybrook, near Dublin's Aviva stadium. Early risers and all-night revellers were among the crowds queuing from 4.30am to get in to the pub - which served breakfasts and soft drinks.

Pub manager John O'Brien vowed to keep his doors open for the rest of the early world cup clashes. "The atmosphere has been unbelievable," he said. "It was great. The buzz was like it was 10pm at night. It would have been unbelievable if they won."

Sport Minister Leo Varadkar paid tribute to the team for their valiant display, saying: "This was Ireland's best ever performance in the rugby world cup, and we can all be proud of this achievement.

"Ireland may not have beaten Wales, but the team put their heart and soul into the game.

"Throughout this world cup we have seen Ireland put in a superb effort, at individual and team level. We now have plenty of memories to take away, memories that will last a lifetime."

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