McLaughlin celebrates 'biggest day'

by Kieran O'Daly , 08 April 2012

Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin has described his side's Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over Munster at Thomond Park as “probably the biggest day” in his rugby career.


Ulster secured a stunning 22-16 win to become only the second team to beat Munster at Thomond Park in the history of the competition - English giants Leicester won a pool game there in January 2007 – and now face a semi-final meeting with Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium on April 28.

"Unbelievable. It was a big highlight in my career, probably the biggest day in my life in rugby terms,” McLaughlin said afterwards. "It is also important to mention the impact and energy we gleaned from our fans in the stadium. The support was outstanding.

"Ruan's place-kicking was exemplary and Craig Gilroy's try, to be 19-0 up after 25 minutes was a dream. We played brilliantly. It was our game plan personified.

"We knew Munster were going to come at us and they certainly did. To be 19-10 at half-time, (our captain) Johann Muller said if we were given that beforehand, we would have taken it.

"We knew after half-time it was going to be another battle. We talked about that all week as well. All credit to the guys on the pitch, they were magnificent today.

"Today is the culmination of three years' really hard work. We have been emphasising the whole way through the importance of getting Ulster up the ladder and getting to that top table.

"We are not there yet. We are under no illusions. Edinburgh showed in their quarter-final win over Toulouse what they can do and it is all set up for another magnificent semi-final."

Munster head coach Tony McGahan was understandably disappointed with the result.

"It is difficult to put it into words at this stage. You need to give the opposition credit. I thought Ulster were terrific today right across the park," he said.

"They got into a substantial lead. Three penalty kicks from inside their own half. They controlled the scoreboard and they controlled field position in that first half.

"Full credit to the Munster team for the way they fought back to 19-13. But when Ulster pushed out to 22-13 it put a big dent in what we were trying to do."

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