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Irish Court Overturns Good Friday Alcohol Ban for Rugby Match

Irish publicans won a court case overturning a ban on drinking in pubs in Limerick this Good Friday, allowing bars to serve thousands of rugby fans who will descend on the western city for a match.

The Limerick District Court granted a one-time exemption allowing pubs to open from 6 p.m. to midnight, Dave Hickey, who led the action, said by phone today. The opening hours will coincide with the nearby clash of Munster and archrival Leinster at Thomond Park stadium.

The Good Friday tradition of abstinence makes it one of only two days in the year that Ireland bans the sale of alcohol. Church leaders argued the custom should be respected on the day, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Bars also aren’t allowed to open on Christmas Day. The match is worth as much as 5 million euros ($6.8 million) to the local economy, research by BDO on behalf of Munster Rugby shows.

“I think this is the beginning of the end for Good Friday,” said Hickey, a member of the management committee of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, a lobby group for bar owners. “They will have to look at the legislation again.”

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