Northern Ireland

Thousands celebrate Ulster rugby triumph

Ulster supporters
Image caption Ulster rugby fans show their support during the semi-final

Thousands of Ulster rugby fans are celebrating after their team defeated Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup semi-final in Dublin.

Many had made their way to Dublin for the biggest game Ulster had faced since 1999.

Ulster beat Edinburgh by 22 points to 19 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

It is the first time Ulster have reached the final of Europe's biggest rugby competition since they won it 13 years ago.

An estimated 40,000 Ulster rugby fans made the trip to Dublin.

Earlier, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said the Ulster team had "lifted the spirits of people in Northern Ireland".

"There's great enthusiam, and our sports people generally have been leading the way," he said.

"I think a final at Twickenham would be a nice place to be during the course of the next number of weeks."

Suspended

Ulster beat provincial rivals Munster at Thomond Park in County Limerick earlier this month to book their place at Dublin's Aviva stadium and started the game as marginal favourites.

Edinburgh had beaten a side with strong Heineken Cup pedigree - Toulouse - to get through to the semi-final.

The Ravenhill men were without two of the stars of the win in Munster.

New Zealand prop John Afoa was suspended and flanker Chris Henry was ruled out with injury.

In 1999, Ulster beat French side Colomiers 21-6 to become the first Irish side to lift the European Cup.

They will face either Leinster or Clermont in this year's final which will take place at Twickenham next month.

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