CARDIFF’S Millennium Stadium is a place of mixed emotions for Mun- ster men — there was the gut-wrench- ing defeat to Leicester in 2002 and the natural high of beating Biarritz four years later.
Marcus Horan saw action on both those days, but Cardiff was the fur- thest thing from his mind on Sunday afternoon as Munster threatened to throw it all away against a battling Saracens side.
He admitted as much after the heart-stopping 18-16 victory. “We were feeling the pressure,’ he said yeaterday (Monday). “There were a
few line breaks that they made at the end but everyone was battling hard to keep them out.
‘I didn’t realise they were so close — | thought they needed a try and I only realised how close they were at the end. Really, it was nail-biting stuff. It was a classic semi -final.
“Everyone expected us to breeze through it, but Saracens are a well- drilled side and we were under no illusions.
“I don’t know if there was a huge confidence among the fans. There is an expectation built up over the past few years with what we’ve achieved getting to the latter stages of the competition but as a team, we’ve suf-
fered so many disappointments that we can’t take anything for granted. With Alan Gaffney over them, we knew we couldn’t take anything for granted and they’ve some great bat- ase
“We knew what we were up against and we tried to block out what the Supporters were feeling before the game. We put ourselves under pres- sure in the last few minutes. It must have been hell for our supporters but at least we came out the right side and it was a good test for our defence,” he added.
Only then did Horan allow his mind fast-forward to the Millen- nium Stadium on 24 May. “Looking
ahead, it should be a great occasion. Like ourselves Toulouse did enough to get through. That’s what a semi- final is all about, even if you have to win ugly.”
Winning ugly on 24 May would do too. Then Munster could think ahead to a showdown with the All-Blacks on November 18th next to mark the reo- pening of the redeveloped Thomond Park. Thirty years and a few weeks to the day of that 12-0 win that made Munster famous in the first place.