Such a judgment would have been unthinkable in the Ireland of old, where the Catholic Church enjoyed unquestioned authority from the public and deference from the government.
Commentators were quick to suggest that the judgment represented a watershed in the shifting relations between church and state in this country.
"This could be the beginning of the end of Good Friday, because now legislation will have to be changed," said a jubilant David Hickey, one of the Limerick pub owners who successfully sued the state for the right to do business like any other Friday.
"The option should be given to let publicans open if they want to and close if they want to. Today was a huge decision in that direction."
His side argued that keeping pubs shut for the match between hometown favourites Munster versus Dublin-based rivals Leinster would represent an economic sin in Limerick, a city suffering from exceptionally high unemployment following the shock closure of its major employer, a Dell Computers plant.
Accountants testified that keeping the bars closed could cost the city an estimated millions in lost income.
District Court Judge Tom O'Donnell agreed, ruling that it also would encourage the estimated 26,000 rugby fans attending to disperse peacefully and rapidly after the match – straight into the watering holes of Limerick.
While the Limerick public appeared overwhelmingly behind the move, the city's Roman Catholic priests expressed sadness that only one of two "dry" holy days on the Irish calendar – the other being Christmas – was being turned into another long boozy weekend.
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