Quarter-finals for University Challenge quiz team

Quarter-finals for University Challenge quiz team

29 November 2017

ULSTER University has clinched their first quarter-final appearance on University Challenge.

After beating St Anne’s College Oxford earlier this month, the local side featuring Comber man Matt Milliken made their latest impressive TV appearance on Monday evening.

The team, who have an average age of 50, beat Warwick University with a score of 170 points to 140.

The quarter finals are long way from their first go on the demanding BBC Two quiz show back in July, when they lost their debut in July against Edinburgh but were given a second chance as one of the highest scoring losing sides.

Now there will be at least two more games under the eye of the famously grumpy Jeremy Paxman to see if they make it to the semis.

The Ulster University side consists,of 55 year-old PhD in Education student Matt, a former youth worker in Downpatrick now living outside Comber, fine art student Kate Ritchie, from County Armagh, but originally from Down and a former Assumption Grammar student, captain and pharmacy student Iain Jack from Peterhead in Scotland, and literature student Cathal McDaid, from County Donegal.

Matt said they couldn’t believe they’d made it so far.

“We are way beyond anything we expected,” he said. “It’s surreal. Very, very exciting and terribly terrifying.

“This is a competition in which all you can hope for is not to be humiliated.”

After the trepidation of going up against an Oxford college the last time, Matt said they were losing some of their nerves but that a winner wasn’t clear early on this time.

“It wasn’t a case this time of getting half way through and thinking they can’t catch up with us now,  the Warwick ones put up a good fight,” he explained.

“When it comes to Jeremy, we’re also not as worried by this stage.”

What happens now in terms of the quiz is a bit more complicated but the Ulster team now face a minimum of two and a maximum of three games to secure a semi-final place. For now though they are enjoying the moment and on Monday night went out for a drink — and a pub quiz  — to celebrate.

“We were glued to Twitter on our phones,” Matt added.

“Some of the commentary was funny though some was actually abusive. We’ve been round a few more corners but I do feel for some of the younger contestants who have every aspect of their appearance scrutinised.”