Ulster’s Celtic League title

Some belated recognition for the [url=http://www.ulsterrugby.com]Ulster rugby[/url] team that won the [url=http://www.celticleague.com]Celtic League[/url] on Friday 26 May with a nail biting 17-19 victory against the Ospreys in Swansea.

The competition came down to a two horse race between Ulster and fellow Irish province Leinster, with Ulster needing a win to finish on top. The title was heading for Leinster after the Ospreys took the lead with 5 minutes of normal time left. However three minutes later, the Ulster out half David Humphreys kicked a long range drop goal that hit both uprights before going over, to give Ulster the victory and the league.

Ulster is the first Irish winner of the Celtic League in its current format as a full home-and-away competition with 20 fixtures. Leinster and Munster won the competition in 2002 and 2003 when the format was group stages followed by knock-out.

The win means Ulster is now the most successful Irish province in terms of silverware with a European Cup in 1999, Celtic Cup in 2003, Celtic League in 2006 and this year Ulster also won the trophy for the best supported team in the Celtic League for the third season running.

Ulster’s average home gates for Celtic League games grew 37% from last season to 9,182.

If success continues on the field, how long before Ulster’s beloved, but ramshackle home Ravenhill, is sold out for every game? This would have been unthinkable for provincial or club rugby games a few years ago, but is already a regular occurance with a number of clubs in the English Guinness Premiership.

The game against the Ospreys was in Swansea’s impressive new Liberty Stadium. The Liberty seats 20,280 in contrast with Ravenhill’s current capacity of 12,300 but it is not just in Ireland that new stadia are fraught with issues, as revealed in [url=http://tinyurl.com/epbvt]this report[/url] from Wales about the Liberty’s finances.