Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 18 April 2015

Leinster v Ulster: Countdown to Heineken Cup final at Twickenham under way

Ulster fans at the semi-final against Edinburgh
Ulster fans at the semi-final against Edinburgh
Ulster fan Adam Brown from Saintfield 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
An Ulster fan during the Heineken Cup Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium
Ulster's Stefan Terblanche celebrates victory over Edinburgh after Saturday's Heineken Cup Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin
An Ulster fan during Saturday's Heineken Cup Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium
Ulster fans Harry and Robbie Cooper, eight-year-old twins at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Fans at The Botanic Inn, Belfast cheer as Ulster win Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final match against Edinburgh. Brother and sister Joeseph and Catherine McTaggart
Fans at The Botanic Inn, Belfast cheer as Ulster win Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final match against Edinburgh. Johnny Farrell, Harry Cleland and Mark Branigan
Ulster fans Matthew Davis, Aaron Wilkinson, Chris Beacom and Dave Johnston ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans Hannah McAdam and Rebecca Walker at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium during Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium during Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium during Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Sarah and Emma Lewis from Belfast
Ulster fans Adam Nathan Stewart and Matthew Thompson at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans Johnny and Michelle Dodds from Armagh during Saturday's Heineken Cup Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium
Ulster fans Simon Corry with his six year-old son William before Saturday's Heineken Cup Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium
Rachel Irwin from Holywood outside the Aviva Stadium
Ella Killeen and Anna Wheeler from Belfast outside the Aviva Stadium
Ulster fans Simon Andrew and Stuart Crozier through the glasses of Rachel Craig from Londonderry
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans Ross Dunning, Jamie Friel and Leo Cassidy from Saintfield at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans from Armagh at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans Sam Owens and Jack Dickson at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans Chloe McIlwaine and Jennifer Swann from Larne at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans Chloe McIlwaine and Jennifer Swann from Larne at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster fans celebrate after the game
Ulster's Ruan Pienaar celebrates with fans after the game
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 28th April 2012 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.Nearly 4500 Ulster rugby fans used TranslinkÕs special rugby train and coach services to travel to Dublin for the Heineken Cup semi-final today. It was a lively atmosphere at Belfast Central Station and Europa Buscentre as fans got ready to cheer on their team. Pictured are Kerry McDowell, Lynsey McDowell and Louise Topping from Glenoe in County Antrim at Central station in Belfast.
Ewan MacDonald and his daughter Elen with Ulster fans waiting on their train at Belfast Central Station
Ulster rugby fans Loraine and Sam Bell pictured in Belfast as they prepare to make the trip to watch Ulster clash with Edinburgh
Kathryn Graham and Neil McCullough at Central station in Belfast
Kerry McDowell, Lynsey McDowell and Louise Topping from Glenoe in County Antrim at Central Station in Belfast
Peter Croan, Chris McIlmurray and Glen Dugan from Newtownards at Central Station in Belfast
Kenny Calladine and Hilda Boyd from Belfast at Central Station
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 28th April 2012 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.Nearly 4500 Ulster rugby fans used TranslinkÕs special rugby train and coach services to travel to Dublin for the Heineken Cup semi-final today. It was a lively atmosphere at Belfast Central Station and Europa Buscentre as fans got ready to cheer on their team. Pictured are Paula Clendinning, Julie Clendinning and Brian Clendinning from Crossgar at Central station in Belfast.
James Heyburn, Mathew Mitchell and Rory Cahoon from Helens Bay at Central Station in Belfast
Thomas Maxwell from Dungannon, Gavyn Anderson from Belfast and Andy Loughran from Belfast at Central Station
Paul and Jenny Irwin from Belfast at Central Station
Members of Ballynahinch Rugby Club at Central Station in Belfast
Brian McMaster, Karl Ludlow and Steven O'Connor at Central Station in Belfast.
Ulster rugby fans travelling to Dublin for today's Heineken Cup semi-final
Paul Cox from Newtownards at Central Station in Belfast.
Ulster fans wait on their train at Belfast Central train station as more than 2% of the population of Northern Ireland will be in Dublin this weekend to watch Ulster play in rugby's Heineken Cup semi-final
Ulster Rugby legend Simon Best with Ulster fans waiting on their train at Belfast Central train station
Ulster fans wait on their train at Belfast Central train station
Ulster Rugby legend Simon Best with Ulster fans Scott Shannon and Louis Lowry waiting on their train at Belfast Central Station
Carol Graham, Willie Graham, Hall Graham and Kate Graham from Parkgate in Antrim at Central Station in Belfast
Deborah Stringer and Graham McCormack from Belfast
Jane and Christopher Hughes from Belfast
John, Holly and Neill Carson from Belfast
Aaron Stewart and Catherine Bell from Belfast
Ryan Hogg, Stephen Craig,Sam Lindsay and Johny McCreish all from Newtownabbey
Carla Pearce from Newtownards
Alastair and Cameron Hooks from Belfast
Sam and Gerry Burns from Belfast
Ulster fans leave Belfast for Saturday's game at the Aviva Stadium in Dulbin
Ulster fans leave Belfast for Saturday's game at the Aviva Stadium in Dulbin
Sharon and Alison Mairs from Lisburn
Ulster fans leave Belfast for Saturday's game at the Aviva Stadium in Dulbin
Victoria Gibson and Claire Ogle from Dromore travel to the game on Saturday

The countdown has begun for thousands of rugby fans who are to travel to Twickenham to see Ulster battle to win the Heineken Cup final in nine days’ time.

Devoted sports fans lucky enough to have tickets will travel by air, bus, car, ferry and even by bicycle to witness the match against Leinster on May 19.

The cost of making the journey to watch the historic game has proved expensive. Return flights are soaring towards £500, with some airlines being accused of benefiting at the expense of supporters.

But Ulster Rugby said it is “fantastic” to see so many people still supporting the team.

Fiona Hampton, senior sales manager for Ulster Rugby, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see so many fans travelling to Twickenham for the final.

“We appreciate that it has been a costly time to be a Ulster fan but we know that it makes a huge difference to the team to have the white flags waving — the thousands of white flags waving at the Aviva was the one thing the players all found inspiring.”

Among the fans travelling over is Fermanagh man Ryan Wilson (32) and his brother.

“We’ll be travelling from Fermanagh to Knock Airport and flying from there. It works out to be cheaper and it is just as far away from Belfast,” he said.

“I was a student in England when they played the final in 1999 and I couldn’t afford to get over and see it.”

But the youth worker said it is a “big event” for another reason.

“I’m emigrating to America in November, so it will probably be my last time to see Ulster in such a big final.”

As reported in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Neil McConkey from east Belfast will be cycling to the final to raise funds for charity.

“There is definitely a buzz,” he said. “I’ve heard of people flying to Paris then getting the Eurostar over to Twickenham — but I think I’m the only one travelling by bike.”

John McKirgan (47) from Belfast is flying to Liverpool. “I’m going to Liverpool on Friday then renting a car. As far as rugby is concerned, it is the best that you can get, to make the European Cup final, it is absolutely brilliant.”

Background

Ulster take on Leinster in the 82,000-capacity London stadium on May 19. They beat rivals Munster at Thomond Park in Limerick in the quarter-finals, before defeating Edinburgh 22-19 in the semi-final at a packed Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

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