Belfast Telegraph

Ulster go for Croke

By Hugh Farrelly

Ulster Rugby could be gearing up for a move to Croke Park — but just for the day if the big freeze continues to grip the country.

While Ravenhill chiefs have have pulled out all the stops and hired a large marquee and commercial heat blowers to ensure Friday night's Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh beats the extreme conditions, there is a Plan B.

To this point the pitch had been covered with frost covers, but they were not enough to protect it ahead of last Friday night’s clash with Ospreys.

So, with the freezing weather set to continue well into this week, the home of GAA, Croke Park, is being considered as a venue for Ulster’s and Leinster's Heineken Cup fixtures next weekend.

Last season's Heineken Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster was staged there as a one-off fixture and the GAA intimated over the weekend that, if an approach was made, an accommodation could be reached.

Croke Park stadium manager Peter McKenna has been quoted as saying that the pitch, which has under-soil heating, is playable and a double-header featuring the two Irish provinces would not have repercussions for the surface three weeks before Ireland's opening Six Nations fixture against Italy.

If the weather dictates it and the move gets the thumbs up from all parties, Ulster will play a ‘home’ game in the city of their most famous triumph in the competition.

The scenes of celebration at the old Lansdowne Road after beating Colomiers in the 1999 Heineken Cup final will live long in the memory for all Ulster supporters. And a relocation to Dublin for the day is sure to attract a large crowd of travelling fans.

Until then however, Ulster will hope their marquee ensures a Ravenhill roar on Friday night.

Belfast Telegraph


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