Craig Gilroy clear on Ulster ambition

Winger Craig Gilroy is one of Ulster’s longest-serving players - having made his debut for the province against Cardiff in November 2010.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 6:00 am

Gilroy bagged two tries against the Blues and scored another three touchdowns in his next two appearances.

The winger scored eight tries in his debut season and at the end of his second full season started for Ulster in the European Cup final.

Now in his 11th season at Kingspan Stadium, Gilroy is still awaiting to get his hands on a winner’s medal.

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Ulster’s Craig Gilroy scoring a try last month against Glasgow Warriors. Pic by Dicksondigital

Defeat at home to Leinster on Saturday night will end Ulster’s hopes of Pro14 glory for another season and prolong the Ireland winger’s wait for silverware.

“It would be amazing, it is a tough ask the way the league is and with everything that has gone on, obviously there is no semi-final or play-offs, it is just into the final and whoever finishes top gets that,” said Gilroy. “We can still totally do that and it is still totally achievable and we want to get some silverware and that is what Dan (McFarland, head coach) has been driving since he has been here.

“He wants success and he wants silverware and so do we, especially someone like myself who has been here for 10 years and has nothing really in terms of silverware to show for it. so it would be great.”

Gilroy believes strength-in-depth has been the key to Ulster mounting a challenge to Leinster this season.

“I have played with a lot of players and some world-class talent that has been here, this squad is highly competitive,” he said. “I think in years previous we would have had that starting team and a couple in and a couple out.”

“In terms of Dan’s selection, if you are putting in the work, the effort and the performance that jersey could be yours and that is a huge thing to strive for...if you are playing well and if you are training hard during the week, Dan will give you a shot.

“I think that is a really good ethos in the team for everyone to work hard and be competitive.”

Gilroy, who celebrates his 30th birthday later this month and is closing in on 200 caps for Ulster, believes there is some exciting young talent emerging at the club, especially in the back three.

“It feels like I’ve been here forever,” he said. “I was actually just talking about this with Nick Timoney, just the amount of guys that have come through during my time.

“I’ve played with so many different guys in an Ulster jersey.

“You see these young guys coming through now and you’re thinking about the similarities when you were that age.”

“There’s some exciting talent coming through and they’re enjoying it, playing in a winning team.

“Ethan McIlroy and Aaron Sexton...they’re two very talented rugby players, two athletes.

“Ethan has a talent in himself of being able to change direction at high speeds, that’s something that worked a lot for me when I was coming through.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s not something that you can really coach or teach in any great detail, it’s a raw ability, he can use that and he’ll go far.

“Aaron is just so very fast and speed goes a long way.

“They’re two exciting talents and we’ve seen that already this season, Aaron more for the As and Ethan for the seniors but ‘Sexto’ will come through as well, I’m sure of that.”


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