ULSTER 19-9 WASPS 13.10.2017

On Friday night, it was time for my annual one Rugby match a year, as I headed to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Wasps.

I usually do one European group match a year, and this was the one that was most convenient for me. Last year, I didn’t actually go to any group matches as they were all on Saturday afternoons. Sorry, but football takes priority.

It was Friday 13th, and Belfast was treated to rain. That wasn’t bad luck, that was just usual Belfast weather.

There wasn’t quite the buzz (sorry) as Wasps flew into to town, with pockets of empty seats around the ground. It was a tough game for Ulster, but not Mission Impossible (again, sorry) despite the presence of Tom Cruse in the opposition line-up, as they aimed to be the Top Gun in the group.

The two sides had previously met in recent months, with Wasps winning a Pre-Season Friendly at Ravenhill in August.

Wasps took an early lead before Ulster responded as both sides exchange penalties, although there was a missed Ulster penalty sandwiched inbetween. Wasteful kicking by Ulster would be a theme throughout the game.

There wasn’t much excitement in the rest of the first-half. However, as it looked like both teams were going in at half-time level, Wasps got a penalty to make it 6-3.

An early penalty from Wasps looked set to take the game away from Ulster as their lead increase to 9-3, that was until a double burst of tries from Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey turned the game around and put Ulster in front for the first time.

However, the conversion was missed for both tries, meaning Ulster had a 13-9 lead when it could have been 17-9. Wasps were still in touch.

If Ulster fans were worried that those lost points would turn out to be costly, they shouldn’t have been, as Christian Lealiifano converted two penalties to give Ulster a 19-9 lead.

Wasps had one big attack which caused panic amongst the Ravenhill crowd, as they feared a try, but Ulster were able to defend it and ensure Wasps wouldn;t be adding any more points to the scoreboard.

As the minutes ticked away, it was becoming more obvious that this was going to be Ulster’s night, as the dream of glory in Bilbao next May remains intact.

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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.

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ULSTER 27-16 MONTPELLIER 10.1.2014

The first Heineken Cup action of 2014, as Ulster looked to secure a win that would help their chances of getting to the knockout stages of the competition for the 4th successive season.

Montpellier started off the better team, and quietened the crowd, going into an early 3-0 lead.

Ulster struggled and struggled, but looked devoid of inspiration. Eventually, a try came out of nowhere, and the mood lifted. Another one came soon after, and it looked like Ulster were going to run away with it.

Montpellier, however, stuck at it, and always managed to get themselves to within a converted try of Ulster not long after Ulster looked to be putting some distance between the teams.

Ulster never looked like losing, but they had to dig in more than they wanted to, meaning qualification will come down to next Saturday’s game at Leicester.

Hopefully, Ulster can do the business, and do enough to get a home Quarter-Final. The continuing redevelopment of Ravenhill is going at an impressive pace.

Was behind the goal at Memorial End. To be honest, I think i’ll try to avoid that (only tickets for that end were available) in future, as it was an organisational shambles.

Too many people in there, and best of all, stewards telling people to move to let more people in, then telling off the same person for standing in the aisle because they’ve moved to let someone in beside them. Bit of a pain in the arse when you’re trying to watch the game and constantly having to move and having your view blocked by people moving. Think i’ll avoid that in future.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, here’s to (hopefully) a home Quarter-Final in the warmer months.

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2013 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October began for me with a trip to Mourneview Park, to see Linfield take on Glenavon, one of the early season pacesetters.

It was a good day all round …… Linfield won, other results saw them go top of the league, and it stayed dry and I got some nice photos.

Enthused by that performance, I headed to The Oval three days later for a League Cup tie …….. and my enthusiasm was soon gone.

An awful game, an awful performance by Linfield, the only positive was that they won the tie on penalties.

Later that week, I went to my usual Ulster European game, against Leicester Tigers, getting a chance to see the redeveloped, but not yet finished, Ravenhill. It’s very impressive. Looking forward to visiting when it’s completely done.

The next day, I went to see Linfield have a routine win over Dungannon Swifts.

Meanwhile, the day after that, I was out and about in Belfast getting photos of Street Art.

The following Saturday, I was at Windsor Park for the match between Linfield and Crusaders. It was a 0-0 draw. Not an awful 0-0 draw, but not a lot of photo opportunities.

My only concert of the month, saw me see Primal Scream at The Limelight.

Two days later, I headed to Ballymena for the first time since January 2012 to see Linfield win 4-1 in four seasons in 90 minutes.

My final photo adventure of the month, was to get some satirical anti Barack Obama stencils which had appeared in Belfast recently.

Glenavon v Linfield

Glentoran v Linfield

Ulster v Leicester Tigers

Ulster v Leicester Tigers Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Anyfin Is Possible

Linfield v Crusaders

Primal Scream Live At The Limelight

Primal Scream Live At The Limelight Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

I See You

ULSTER 22-16 LEICESTER TIGERS 11.10.2013

Went to Ravenhill last night for my annual European Cup tie, as Ulster took on Leicester.

I almost said “The newly refurbished Ravenhill” as it’s not yet complete, but the bits that were complete, were impressive.

There is new turnstiles. The old and drab looking grey wall has been replaced with something more bright, complete with Ulster branding.

There were no operators, but stewards on hand to help, as it was all computerised as you swiped the barcode on your ticket to enter.

There were some problems with people who had printed tickets trying to get their barcode to scan though.

There were no tents for the bar and club shop any more, those now situated underneath the new stand. I’ve always thought that Ravenhill would be a fantastic stadium if it was all seater at four ends.

I was in the West Terrace, at the end where Ulster attacked in the first-half, got myself a position by the Try Line.

There are now two large TV screens as well in two corners of the ground. When the ball was up at the other end of the pitch, people beside me were turning in the opposite direction to watch the action on the screen.

It would have been nice if the digital clock was still there so people could check what stage the game was at.

For the second-half, I got a space in the new stand and watched the game from there, with supporters having the choice of a seat or standing on the terracing.

Of the game itself, Leicester took an early lead with a converted try, but Ulster replied with a converted try soon after wards. From then on, it was all about ticket as Ulster scored two penalties to Leicester’s oone, leading 13-10 at the break, though Leicester levelled just after half-time.

From there, it was all Ulster and they scored three penalties to lead 22-13, knowing that a converted try for Leicester wouldn’t be enough for them to lead.

Leicester scored a penalty late on, but never looked like winning.

An enjoyable night, can’t wait to go to a match at Ravenhill when it’s fully finished.

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