Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Leinster v Ulster: Heineken Cup final a Royal occasion

Fan's transatlantic odyssey to cheer on old school pals at Twickenham

An Ulster fan during the Heineken Cup Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium
Ulster's Rory Best walks with his son after the Heineken Cup semi final match between Ulster and Edinburgh at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Victoria Gibson and Claire Ogle from Dromore travel to the game on Saturday

It was created as a free school around the time of the Ulster Plantation.

Now the Royal School Armagh will send legions of its past pupils to back Ulster for glory in the Heineken Cup Final, with one man coming all the way from Canada for the mouth-watering clash against Leinster on May 19.

Stephen Cargill will fly in from Toronto for the big game, for three of his old schoolmates are all star players — two on the Ulster team and one soon to return to the squad.

Ulster’s new recruit, star Ireland winger Tommy Bowe, is a past pupil along with Paddy McAllister and Willie Faloon.

Among legions of Ulster fans willing on the home side will be scores of other past pupils of the Royal — some of whom played alongside the trio on the school team.

Bowe, who played for Ulster between 2003 and 2008 and will return to his native province next season, represented the school on the rugby field before leaving in 2002.

Following in his footsteps were openside flanker Faloon and Ulster loose-head prop McAllister.

McAllister was the last of the trio to leave the school in 2008.

Mr Cargill will fly from his new home to join other old school friends in Dublin.

The 12-strong Armagh contingent will then take the Dublin-Holyhead ferry to get to the game in London’s Twickenham stadium.

Mr Cargill, from Middletown in Co Armagh, and who played with Faloon and Bowe on the school’s team, said: “It’s going to be special for all Ulster fans — but knowing some of the people who may be playing will make it very special.

“With it being an all-Ireland final, it will probably be a long time before you see another one.”

“It will be something to talk about anyway when we meet up with the guys again at Christmas,” he added.

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