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Back to the day job: Craig Gilroy digs in for Ravenhill revamp

And there’s *fully qualified digger operator Rory Best in the background. (*Double-check with Ulster)

Craig Gilroy and Rory Best mark the start of Ravenjill's €14m redevelopment.
Craig Gilroy and Rory Best mark the start of Ravenjill's €14m redevelopment.
Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry

CRAIG GILROY RETURNED to Belfast on Monday morning, was handed a hard hat and told there was work to be done.

Ulster Rugby marked the start of redevelopment work at their Ravenhill ground yesterday by placing their newest international rugby star beside some heavy machinery, and Rory Best.

Gilroy’s six tries in three Ireland senior matches [Barbarians, Fiji and Argentina] has many Irish rugby supporters comparing him to Brian O’Driscoll and Simon Geoghegan.

Best is hoping for a provincial return in time for Ulster’s Heineken Cup encounters with Northampton Saints next month.

He was delighted with the impact his young teammates – Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson – had on the national team.

He told BBC Northern Ireland, “Watching the Ireland games, the Ulster boys especially over the last two to three weeks have been brilliant.

“It was great seeing almost an entire Ulster back-line scoring against Fiji and looking so confident. It can only be good for Ulster.”

Team player

Best pointed out that the Ulster squad is a close and ‘grounded’ unit and believes Gilroy will now to his focus to playing whatever role coach Mark Anscombe elects for him ahead of a busy period of fixtures. He continued:

Young players, especially young backs, need a bit of a swagger about them. Craig has got that but he’s also a fairly grounded individual for someone that’s scored a try on his international debut.

“To start for your country at home, to win, to score 40 points and to score the first try…you have to give the kid time to enjoy that. If you can’t enjoy that, it’s not worth playing rugby.”

If all goes to plan, three new stands will be built at Ravenhill by the summer of 2014, in a phased approach that will see capacity increase from 11,400 to 18,000.

The project has received £14.7 million of funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and is part of the Northern Ireland Executive’s regional stadium development programme.

As the diggers got stuck into work on the new stands, out-half Paddy Jackson could be heard humming along to the song JCB that he lip-synced so beautifully to while on Ireland duty.

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Patrick McCarry

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