No place like home for Ulster’s Nick Timoney

Ulster’s reward for finishing third in the United Rugby Championship after the 18 regular season games is to host Irish rivals Munster at Kingspan Stadium on the weekend of the 3rd June.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 6:00 am

The Stormers dramatic late try at the Scarlets pushed Dan McFarland’s side from second to third which means if they overcome the Limerick men they will have to travel for the semi-final.

A narrow 24-21 win over the Sharks on Friday secured Ulster’s home tie in the last-eight and man of the man match Nick Timoney is happy to have home comforts for the knockout game with Munster.

“I think we are trending back in the right direction after having a bit of a dip in form,” said Timoney.

Nick Timoney was delighted Ulster secured a home quarter-final in the URC. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“So it is positives not negatives, it’s a starter and a home quarter-final is a good place to be.

“A home quarter-final is huge for the club in general just giving the fans and the people another game to watch.

“A play-off game is huge for us just in terms of momentum of the place, the feel good and the buzz around the place.

“Obviously playing at home is more of an advantage than playing away, especially when some of the away games looked like being in South Africa as well, so it is massive for us.”

Timoney believes Ulster have turned the corner by securing a home quarter-final.

The side had had lost three consecutive URC games before winning in Edinburgh and had crashed out of Europe in that period.

“It proves to ourselves that we had a great run during the season then we lost it big time and had a terrible run for a few weeks,” said Timoney.

“Now we are sort of getting back into that flow of having a good run and hopefully the belief in the game we play will be stronger on the back of that because we have seen where it can go wrong, what we can do wrong and we sort of had to drag ourselves back into the right frame of things.

“The pressure is still on, the last two games felt like must-wins and obviously the quarter-final is a must win.

“We’re happy but nothing changes, it is good to get a couple of games practice with that pressure on ourselves knowing that we had to win, so from that point of view it was pretty good.”

Since leaving his native Dublin in 2016 to move north, the back row has watched Leinster win four domestic leagues and a Champions Cup.

Leo Cullen’s side contest another European final this Saturday, but Timoney is driven by a desire to win silverware at Ulster.

“I guess I always look at myself and where I’m at in my rugby career, and I assess if I’m all that happy,” he said.

“When I was a kid or if you’d asked me at the start of my career what I would have wanted to achieve at 26 I’d have ultimately said I’d have wanted to have won the league, the Champions Cup, have played 20 or 30 times for Ireland like a lot of lads that I’m mates with have.

“The worst thing you can have in a team is people that are happy getting picked.

“I just look at all the things I don’t have or all the things I’ve failed on and try to use that sometimes.”