Ulster University suffered an agonising defeat in their first ever appearance on the TV quiz show University Challenge
In the thrilling contest, the newcomers lost to a strong team from Edinburgh University.
As the match see-sawed in the closing moments the Ulster team nearly snatched victory by answering the final starter-for-ten seconds before the gong signalled the end of the game.
Ulster’s team captain Iain Jack, impressed with the depth of his knowledge and his speed on the buzzer in the early rounds as Ulster pulled away into the lead.
But the experience of their opponents eventually showed through as they fought their way back to overtake Ulster in the final stages.
However, all is not lost for Ulster – who were revealed to be the oldest team in the competition this year with an average age of 50.
Twenty-eight universities contest the first round of the competition. The fourteen winning teams progress automatically to the second round whilst the four losing teams with the highest scores get a second opportunity to qualify through an additional play-off. Ulster now face an agonising wait over the next thirteen weeks to see whether or not their score of 160 will be enough to see them through.
Team spokesman Matthew Milliken said while he wasn’t making excuses, co-ordinating team practice had been problematic.
He said: “Logistically getting our team together was complex – we’re all on different campuses and had to travel miles to get together to practice. As first-timers we didn’t really know what to expect, Edinburgh have serious form in this competition.
“Having said that, I think we performed well as a team and perhaps surprised a few people. Edinburgh were deserved winners. We wish them well for the rest of the competition. We weren’t good enough but we aren’t out of it yet; we’ll be watching avidly as the competition progresses to see if we make the play-offs.
“Teams have won matches with fewer points than we accumulated last night but unfortunately our destiny in the competition is out of our hands now.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital