ULSTER 21-13 CONNACHT 4.5.2019

Well, this was a nice bonus.

Resigned to an empty Saturday, I found out on Friday evening that I won tickets to Ulster v Connacht, so it was off to Ravenhill I headed on Saturday teatime.

Regardless of the result, this would be Ulster’s last home match of the season, a Quarter-Final of the Pro 14, with Glasgow the destination Ulster were aiming for, in more than one way.

I had previously seen Ulster take on Connacht, in December 2016. The weather was a bit different, dry, decent evening light and a gentle breeze – a lot different from the aftermath of Storm Barbara in 2016.

There was a decent sized Connacht support, or maybe it seemed more visible decked in their green replica shirts amongst the white of Ulster.

Despite the fact that it was knock-out Rugby, and that Ulster were three wins away from the title, there was a surprising amount of empty seats in the ground. Not a lot, but there were pockets of empty seats that were clearly visible.

The seats I had were fantastic, in the stand with a clear view, right on the halfway line.

It was Ulster who got the first score on the board with a penalty from John Cooney, before Nick Timoney got over for a try to make it 8-0 to Ulster. It looked like they were going to run away with it. Unfortunately Cooney missed the conversion, meaning Ulster didn’t have a double point lead.

The two sides exchanged penalties to give Ulster a half-time lead of 11-3. Not exactly job done, but you’d take it.

Jack Carty missed a penalty for Connacht in the opening minutes after somebody in the crowd shouted “CHICKEN!!” as he was taking it. I guess you could say he really clucked up that opportunity.

As a side note, the whole being quiet at penalties unwritten rule in Rugby in just the weirdest thing ever. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time watching football.

Could you imagine Joe Gormley or Curtis Allen taking a penalty in front of The Kop, and someone says “Lads, can we just be quiet for a minute? It’s a bit rude and disrespectful to the penalty taker”

Bundee Aki then saw his try converted by Jack Carty to make it 11-10. That miss earlier by Carty was now costly. The game was now in the balance.

The sides once again exchanged penalties as Ulster’s four point lead was once again reduced to one.

As each minute ticked down, it was beginning to feel like the last time I won tickets to an Ulster match, against Edinburgh in February 2018.

That match was in the balance, and Ulster couldn’t get the ball in the final minutes, as Edinburgh waited for their moment to get a clear shot at a drop goal, which they did, to win the game right at the end.

There would be no repeat, as Marcell Coetzee ran through late on for a try to make it 19-13. Connacht now needed to score 7 points in 2 minutes.

A conversion made it 21-13. They now needed 9 points in 2 minutes. They didn’t get it as Ulster got the win, and fans could now make plans for the Semi-Final.

That will be away to Glasgow in two weeks time, with the Final taking place in the city a week later.

The venue for the final, isn’t a Rugby ground, but Celtic Park.

I would say that it isn’t usual for a match at Celtic Park to see the ball in the air for a long time and punch-ups all over the pitch, but that is what usually happens when Celtic play Rangers.

Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers recent successes at Celtic mean that they are used to seeing Ulstermen celebrating at Celtic Park.

Hopefully, in three weeks, there will be some more celebrating, but in the oval ball.

Photo Album

Ulster v Connacht 2016

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2016 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR …..)

December began for me with a trip to The Limelight, a venue I would be spending a bit of time at this month, to see Primal Scream in concert.

Two Days later, I was headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield get a routine win over Carrick Rangers.

I then headed out into Belfast to get some photos of a mural of Jack Nicholson

That night, I headed back to The Limelight to see Ocean Colour Scene in concert.

The following weekend, I was Bangor bound to see Linfield take on Ards, and then back to The Limelight (I know, becoming a regular) to see Cast in concert.

The morning after that, I was out on my bike to get some Street Art photos, in Great Victoria Street and a mural of Prince in Botanic.

On the middle Saturday in December, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield record a late win over Ballymena United.

The weekend before Christmas saw me being busy, taking in Ulster v Connacht for my annual Rugby match, and then the following morning heading to Seaview to see Linfield Swifts win the Steel and Sons Cup.

There’s still a bit of the month left. Two big Linfield matches, against Glentoran and Crusaders. I’m also hoping to get a chance to head to Lisburn to get some Street Art photos.

And then, that will be me for 2016. Don’t worry, there’ll be Camera Adverntures in 2017.

Primal Scream live at The Limelight

Primal Scream live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Jack

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Great Victoria Street Art

Great Victoria Street Art Photo Album

Prince Mural

Prince Mural Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

Ulster v Connacht

Ulster v Connacht Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield Swifts

Dundela v Linfield Swifts Photo Album

ULSTER 23-7 CONNACHT 23.12.2016

Last night, I headed to Ravenhill for my annual Rugby match, as Ulster took on Connacht.

I usually make it a European game, but the scheduling has conspired against me. The home match against Exeter was on a Saturday night, but it was also the same day as one of Linfield’s longer away games. It was doable, but there was too much that could have went wrong, and it would have meant a Burger Van Dinner.

The home match against Clermont a few weeks ago was on a Saturday lunchtime. Sorry lads, but Linfield take priority, especially when there is an away trip to Bangor that day.

The game against Bordaux next month looks set to be a dead rubber. That too has been moved to a Saturday lunchtime. I’ll be at Linfield v Ballymena.

It’s almost as if they want to keep me away from Ravenhill. Is it because Ulster have lost the last two times i’ve been to Ravenhill?

My last visit, was an agonising one point defeat to Scarlets in February. For that match, I got a free ticket as part of promotion for Random Acts Of Kindness Day. That falls on February 17th, the day before Ulster are at home to Glasgow, a Saturday when Linfield don’t play. Just dropping a hint there. I love getting free stuff.

So, I decided to pick a league match, and a Friday night game against the defending champions when I am on my Christmas Holidays looked like a good option.

For this match, I was in the Family Terrace, my first time in there. It wasn’t too crowded and I wasn’t having to constantly let people in and out, which was a nice bonus.

The game was publicised as being sold out, but I could see a lot of empty seats from where I was.

Not a lot happened in the early stages of the game. That was, until Paddy Jackson converted a penalty on 19 minutes to put Ulster 3-0 up.

On 27 minutes, Ulster’s first real moment of quality in attack saw Stuart McCloskey have a clear run to get a try at the corner. During the whole move, it was just a matter of who was going to score. The resulting conversion from Paddy Jackson gave Ulster a 10-0 lead.

Connacht were offering nothing going forward, and when they did, there was an Ulster wall blocking their way. Another penalty from Paddy Jackson gave Ulster a 13-0 lead. It was anything but unlucky for Connacht.

On 53 minutes, a Clive Ross try converted by Jackson made it 20-0 to Ulster. As Connacht hadn’t looked like scoring all game, a dramatic comeback looked unlikely, it was almost game won for Ulster.

There would be no clean sheet as a Jack Carty converted try made it 20-7. 13 points was still a lot to climb back, but Ulster still had to keep their senses and stop Connacht from getting back into the game.

Any hopes of a comeback were soon dashed when another Jackson penalty made it 23-7.

Ulster were comfortable winners. So comfortable, a lot of people left early knowing the points were secured, leading to a slightly subdued atmosphere at full time.

Ulster are now in 5th, as they aim to get into the Play-Offs, the final in 2017 will be at Lansdowne Road.

Undecided wether to go to this. The game is on the last Saturday in May. That is Football Programme Fair day, and the FA Cup Final.

I went in 2015 and got my tickets once United’s fate that season was confirmed in March. With a likely teatime kick-off, it’s possible to do both the fair and the match. I’ll wait and see.

Meanwhile, Newcastle has been shortlisted as a host city for the 2018 European Champions Cup Final. This would be very tempting for a number of reasons. I haven’t been to Newcastle since 1994 so a return visit is overdue, I could get to visit The Back Page, and then make it a double header on the Sunday by seeing Sunderland or Middlesbrough if they are both still in the Premier League and one of them is at home.

Photo Album

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