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Back in the day - Ulster stop Stade Francais to march into Euro rugby final - The Irish News, Jan 10 1999

BHOYS TOGETHER...Pictured at the recent Omagh Celtic Supporters Club function. left to right: Back row: Ignatius Kelly, Eamon McGale, Phil McCusker, Colin Kerrigan, Shane Fox, John Fox, Mark Lynch. Front row: Paul McStay, Des Fahy, Billy McNeill, Tom Boyd and Michael McDonald
Sean Whelan and The Irish News Archive

European Rugby Cup semi-final Ulster 33 Stade Francais 27

Ulster defied all odds and the predictions of most observers by beating French champions and tournament favourites Stade Francais by 33-27 in a tense, pulsating and thoroughly memorable semi-final at Ravenhill.

The surprise victory was a triumph for team work and team spirit over individual talent and it has handed the northerners an historic European final spot with Colomiers on January 30 at Lansdowne Road. In the competition’s four-year history no Irish team has ever played in a final but Ulster are now in the driving seat having beaten both Toulouse and then the 3/1 on favourites in the knockout stages.

Colomiers, last year’s European Shield winners, are a good side but they are not in the same class as the team Ulster defeated on Saturday. Ulster should win and will earn the IRFU £126,500 for reaching the final. It will be the first showpiece final to be played at Lansdowne, the old stadium having only previously staged the semifinal between Leinster and Cardiff in 1996.

Words almost escaped an emotional Ulster coach Harry Williams afterwards, but he declared his team would create history in under three weeks time.

“Everything went to plan today as far as you can plan anything. We tackled hard and really put pressure on them in midfield which prevented them from getting the ball wide. “When you come this far, you don’t want to lose. We’ve been the underdogs in every game we’ve played but we can win it now.

ULSTER’S UNBEATABLE UNDERDOGS... Ulster captain David Humphreys outpaces the Stade Francais defence to score Ulster’s crucial second try

Ulster: Mason, Coulter, Cunningham, Bell, Park, Humphreys, Matchett, Fitzpatrick, Clarke, Irwin, Blair, Longwell, McKinty, McWhirter, Ward

Replacements: Leslie for Irwin (54), D Topping for McWhirter (74).

Stade Francais: Viars, Gomes, Dourthe, Mytton, Lombard, Dominguez, Lassucq, Marconnet, Pedrosa, Devilliers, Chaffardon, George, Moni, Juillet, Pool Jones

Replacements: Simon for Marconnet, Lievremont for Moni, Moscato for Pedrosa (all 49mins). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

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CELTIC heroes Billy McNeill, Paul McStay and Tommy Boyd were among those who attended a fund-raiser for the Omagh Bomb Fund in the Tyrone town on Friday evening. Over 350 guests attended the function at the Royal Arms Hotel which was organised by the Omagh District Celtic Supporters Club.

These included the Doherty family from Buncrana and Patricia and Michael Gallagher from Omagh, who represented the relatives of the victims.

Other invited guests were Celtic director Michael McDonald, Cliftonville chairman Hugh McCartan and Seamus Given - the father of Irish international goalkeeper Shay Given.

Approximately £10,000 was raised from an auction which included signed Celtic jerseys and other items connected with the Glasgow club.

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