Tommy Bowe: Final is Ulster target
Good time to end Leinster jinx with PRO12 climax in Ravenhill
There was Fortress Ravenhill. Now, there can be Castle Kingspan.
The choice of Ulster's impressively reconstructed home as the first neutral venue for the PRO12 League final means there is extra incentive, extra pressure for the province to make it there on May 30th.
"The fact there is going to be a final played in our stadium, it is something we have to aim for," said Tommy Bowe.
"It would be such a shame to have this final going on and us not to be involved in it. We would be devastated," he said.
For this to happen, Ulster are going to have to do what they have not done since 2006 when David Humphreys' late drop goal smacked off both uprights on its' way to sealing a 19-17 victory at the Ospreys.
Those were the halcyon and pre-play-off days when that rascal Justin Harrison lifted the Celtic League trophy as Leinster were held off by one point.
It was to be the start of something new and exciting. In between, the sad reality is that Ulster have promised so much more than they have delivered.
The pressure is on them to make it to the PRO12 League final and win it.
"We want to be the top province in Ireland. We want to be the team that is leading the way," said Bowe.
"But, until we start winning things and getting to finals and winning finals, we're not going to be taken as serious."
The confirmation Les Kiss will take the reins after the 2015 World Cup, the announcement of the signing of All Black full-back sensation Charles Piutau, the decision to make The Kingspan the venue for the PRO12 final and their recent hot form have all combined tobring a new fever to Ulster.
"Since I've come back, this is what we've talked about. Ulster were in a Heineken Cup (2012) final before I came back. We have been knocking on the door for a long, long time.
"Unfortunately, it has been Leinster who've been the ones who've knocked us out every time.
"For us to be taken seriously, we've got the facilities, we've got a super coaching staff and another great coach coming in, we've a big signing, at the end of the day, trophies and winning things are what a team is graded on."
A long overdue 'big game' edge over Leinster could just provide the double benefit of getting over their nemesis and knocking them out of the complicated PRO12 equation.
"They've obviously had a good record over putting an end to our hopes of silverware.
"Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, we've definitely been on the wrong side of it.
"We want to be playing for a home semi-final. To do that, we pretty much have to win the remainder of our games.
"Leinster is a great start to it. For us to win that will make it difficult for them to get into the knockout stages."
The sold out signs have been up outside The Kingspan. The supporters have bought into the new dawn.
The players have to do their part by taking Leinster apart tomorrow night.