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Les Kiss is the man to end Ulster painful trophy drought, maintains Craig Gilroy

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 24/05/2016

Familiar sight: Craig Gilroy nets his double in the semi-final defeat to Leinster, taking him top of the PRO12 scoring charts for the season
Familiar sight: Craig Gilroy nets his double in the semi-final defeat to Leinster, taking him top of the PRO12 scoring charts for the season

Craig Gilroy says the days of Ulster being able to learn from defeat in big games are long over but is sure that Les Kiss is the man to finally bring silverware back to Belfast.

Last Friday's 30-18 PRO12 semi-final defeat at the hands of Leinster was Ulster's ninth knock-out loss in the last six seasons, despite two tries from Gilroy, and ensures the Celtic League title in 2006 remains the province's last taste of success.

Gilroy bemoaned the Dubliners' ability to once again turn it on with the season on the line.

"We can't keep saying we're going to learn from this," lamented the 25-year-old. "We should have learned from the first time.

"This is the third semi-final loss I've been involved in down here. Full credit to Leinster; we played them at home and got the win over them but they're just a different team down here on their home patch.

"(That) was one of the best performances they've put in this season. That shows the calibre of this team, that they know when to step it up. They're a big game team."

In contrast, Ulster will have to endure yet more questions of their mental fragility when it comes to the business end of the season with Gilroy finding the latest failed bid for silverware especially hard to stomach.

"We spent the past few weeks saying to ourselves that we were going to re-write history, we were coming down here to win," he said. "I would say it's disappointing and frustrating but I can't really put it in any eloquent way.

"I just really thought this was going to be our year. It's hard to put that into words when it doesn't work."

Despite the crushing blow, Gilroy is optimistic about Ulster's future with Kiss at the helm.

"Les has a great ethos and energy about him," said the wing. "He doesn't just say, 'Oh, let's take the positives from it and move on'.

"He has a real belief and he has in his head what he wants. Honestly, the guys really trust in him and believe in it.

"I've known him for five years now. He was there for my first Ireland cap. He's been a joy to work with since he came in. He's hit the ground running.

"Everyone loves him, from the players to the staff and the fans. He's just a great man to work under.

"He's a hard man. If you keep crossing him or get in his way, you will hear about it. But at the same time, he is fair. He's got a good mix of qualities and he is fantastic at what he does.

"The future will be bright under him."

While team silverware will have to wait, Gilroy's brace has him top of the PRO12 scoring charts for the season - although both Leinster's Isa Nacewa and Connacht's Matt Healy are only one behind with the final still to play - with the Bangor native hoping the eye-catching strike rate will be enough to seal his place on the plane to South Africa for Ireland's three-Test tour next month.

"It's a nice accolade but I'd honestly give up those two tries and be in a Murrayfield final instead," he insisted. "I'd love to go to South Africa, of course. Which Irish rugby player doesn't want to play for Ireland?

"It can be disappointing not being selected. It's nice to be involved in the camps.

"There are guys who are playing well who aren't there.

"It's good to be invited down, be involved. It's not up to me, it's up to Joe (Schmidt). Hopefully I've done enough."

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