The dreams of an all-Irish final were dashed at the weekend, with Munster not good enough to beat Saracens on Saturday. Hope of at least one Irish representative in the final then hit the rocks in Lyon, as frustratingly, Leinster were good enough to put Clermont to the sword, but 'were ultimately hoisted by their slow start. It's an undeniably good season for the Irish in the Champions Cup, going from zero quarter-finalists to making up half the last four, but proof that the penultimate hurdle is difficult to clear.
Here's how the international media reacted to Leinster's defeat.
La Depeche's report was enormously entertaining, and wonderfully overwrought. They describe Dan Leavy as a "rascal" for holding on the disallowed try in the second half, and their look ahead to the final is fantastic:
Now, we are in agreement, it was only a semi-final ... Saracens, their surgical rugby, shadows and blood, charcoal and demons await at the corner of the "Murrayfield" where many ghosts prowl .But is not this the best place, for an exorcism?
Elsewhere, Rugbyrama - linked with Eurosport - said that Garry Ringrose was the player of the weekend:
The Irish center of Leinster, Garry Ringrose, prominent in the 6 Nations tournament, was once again in the second-half against Clermont. Very stirring (138 meters with ball in hand), he managed to leave 9 defenders on the roadside while managing to make 4 offloads. And what about his solo effort? Magnificent. Unfortunately for him, this was not enough to bring down Clermont.
ESPN have compiled an XV of Lions players from the weekend, and despite the fact that Ringrose has not been included in Gatland's squad, ESPN pick him at 13, assuming that the current squad will be much changed by the vagaries of injury.
More than anything, perhaps the weekend's rugby showed what Gatland is missing. One name. Garry Ringrose. He provides an x-factor. His try, out of nothing against Clermont, showed the spark which needs to shine in New Zealand. He led Leinster in carries and metres made and his ability to beat defenders and make breaks surely means he is first in line if injury strikes.
The Telegraph ranked Ringrose's try as the best of the weekend, with added Lions lobbying.
For all the talk of Jamie Roberts’ inclusion, Garry Ringrose has to be the next midfield cab off the Lions rank in case of injury.
Elsewhere, the Guardian lamented Leinster's slow start:
The excellent Parra converted and added a penalty and with Leinster’s captain, Isa Nacewa, shown a yellow card for tugging back Strettle as he chased a Scott Spedding kick, it was a nightmare start for the visitors.
With the man advantage Parra’s flat pass then found Strettle, who sped past the Leinster flanker Leavy to add Clermont’s second try with Joey Carberry unable to stop him. Parra’s conversion went wide but the French team were utterly dominant.
Leinster’s failure to do the basics was letting them down and their lineout was particularly poor and contributed to giving Clermont the field position from which Strettle went over.
And the Daily Mail hooked their report on David Strettle settling an old score with Stuart Lancaster:
Clermont winger David Strettle revealed his satisfaction at settling an ‘old score’ with Stuart Lancaster after his try helped end Leinster’s European dream in Lyon.
The 33-year-old accused Lancaster of showing ‘no respect’ during his time as England coach - offering no explanation for consistently ignoring the ex-Saracens star.
Enjoying a career renaissance in France, Strettle demonstrated his strike rate against the Irish province on Sunday to book a final showdown with his former club.
When someone doesn’t respect you it’s nice to go out and show them what you can do,’ said Strettle. ‘Stuart didn’t speak to me much then so I don’t think he’ll speak to me now.
It was tough to take when he didn’t pick me. Hopefully Stuart will go back and watch that game and think, “you know what, he’s a better player than I thought he was.