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    McLaughlin happy with underdog status

    by Michelle Fortune , 30 April 2012

    Brian McLaughlin has no issue with the fact that Ulster will be the underdogs when they clash with Leinster in the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham on May 19.

    Ulster progressed to the finale with a 22-19 win over Edinburgh in Dublin on Saturday but they had to wait almost 24 hours before discovering their opponents would be their Irish rivals Leinster.

    The Blues withstood Clermont Auvergne's late push in Bordeaux to set-up an all-Irish final at Twickenham and McLaughlin had nothing but praise for the way in which Joe Schmidt's men ground out the win over the French side.

    "Leinster were superb. They proved they are a quality side in the way they handled Clermont at the end," McLaughlin declared.

    "It as a tremendous defensive performance after they fought back to take the lead. But we know what to expect from Leinster. We played them a few weeks back and they were a good quality side. But it’s a final and anything can happen.

    "We will be going in as underdogs, but that will not bother us. There is one thing for sure and that is we will give it a real lash, it will be not be for the want of trying."

    Ulster and Leinster were not the only Irish teams celebrating at the weekend as their respective wins means Connacht are once again assured of a place in the Heineken Cup next season.

    Eric Elwood's men qualified for the competition courtesy of Leinster's triumph last season and the Westeners will go up against the best in Europe again, much to the delight of captain Gavin Duffy.

    "It is fantastic to know we will be there again and fair play to Ulster and Leinster for reaching the final," Duffy is quoted as saying in the Irish Examiner.

    "It was completely out of our hands but they produced the goods when it mattered and it should not be a superb final. This is another huge boost for Connacht.

    "We spent years trying to get into the competition and it drove the game forward enormously this season after Leinster won the title last

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