Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Ulster triumph on rocky road to Dublin

When you've waited since 1999 for a win in Dublin you don't mind having to hang on a wee bit longer for an Ulster victory, but beating Leinster is one thing it's quite another having to persuade the referee that this is allowed to happen.

It's fair to say that a Clancy will not be welcomed back to Ulster less warmly than the night Liam dandered into the Sandy Row Rangers Club and beckoned the patrons to join him in a rendition of The Rocky Road to Dublin.

And it was quite a bumpy route for BBCNI as we joined them on Saturday night for the big game on Ulster Rugby Live, the offspring of Stephen Watson Live, who vowed that Mark Anscombe's boys "arrive at the RDS keen to make amends".

Silence. In the continuing homage to all things 1999, the decision to switch back to video was a mistake as Stephen bit his lip, looked down nervously at his notes and then admitted "unfortunately, we can't seem to bring you the opening of the programme this evening.'

But proving that form is merely temporary and class is permanent, old SWL recovered majestically.

"Ulster will be trying to start their comeback – much more smoothly than we did I have to say," he said, and we were all back in the bosom of the Beeb, with the 1995 video of birthday boy Bryn Cunningham in Schools' Cup action.

Suitably embarrassed he then went on to discuss Ulster's team selection with 'Stuart Olding, at 12, he's a serious talent and has a big future ahead of him.' Indeed, a place in the Medallion and 1st XV sides are just a couple of years away.

Not to be outdone by the video boys, the ever-reliable graphics team were not to be left out, and gave us all a free game of Guess Who when Leinster's team popped up on screen with a white silhouette of where Quinn Roux's face should have been. Surely they could have even put in a picture of Michel, Guy or even Danny Le, but we'll never know what Roux (pictured) looks like

Onto the game and it was brilliant, nail-biting stuff and Ulster held on heroically for a win despite the Leinster onslaught and referee George Clancy's insistence that we play on until a team in blue wins.

"My heart is still pumping and to beat 16 men was quite outstanding because, quite frankly, they were playing against the referee for half of that," hinted Bryn in a display of petulance not shown by a Cunningham since Joanie wasn't allowed to meet up with Chiachi on a school night.

But who cares, it was happy days in the end.

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