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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 14:20 GMT
Humphreys star shines again

David Humphreys scored 26 points against Scotland
Humphreys scoring against Scotland

So it was one of those virtuoso days for the little Ulster maestro.

There have been a few in the career of David Humphreys, the 31-year-old solicitor.

Having served his legal apprenticeship in Belfast under one Cameron Michael Henderson Gibson, advice was coming from the highest echelons of the game.

His captain on Saturday Brian O'Driscoll might have won the man-of-the-match award and collected the Centenary Quaich following that historic 36-6 victory over Scotland.

But it was the green Pimpernel who buried Ireland's atrocious Edinburgh record into the Murrayfield undersoil heating.

Records tumbled on Sunday like autumn leaves in a stiff breeze.

Not only was it Ireland's biggest victory in 115 occasions over their Celtic neighbours, home or away, but Humphreys eclipsed Michael Kiernan's Championship record for Ireland.

Little poser

Kiernan's total was 207, but long before Humphreys swooped in for only his third try for his country, that figure was surpassed.

Humphreys collected 26 points in all, missing only one kick all day, and taking his Championship total to 216 points and his overall Ireland record to 371.

There were many who believed that the 48-times capped Humphreys would not make it a half century. Any bets!

To think that Humphreys was only called into the side when Ronan O'Gara was forced out earlier last week. What chance now of the Munsterman getting his place back?

That is a little poser that we will leave to Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan.

When O'Sullivan said he was the luckiest coach in the world to have two such talented fly-halves, he wasn't kidding.

It has been a roller-coaster international ride for Humphreys since he made his debut against France back in 1996.

Ireland getting hammered 45-10 at the Parc des Princes did not help much.

Since then he has been in and out of the Ireland side like a fiddler's elbow.

Eric Elwood, Paul Burke, and now O'Gara have all battled for the number 10 jersey since.

There have been some great cameos in Humphreys's chequered playing career.

Starting by captaining the Ireland Schools to their first Triple Crown back in 1992.

Even England coach Clive Woodward called him ''my little gem''.

David Humphreys led Ulster to European glory back in 1999
Humphreys celebrates his 38 points gainst Wasps

That was when Woodward was coach at London Irish and Humphreys scored a wonder try from deep inside his own half against Gloucester at Sunbury.

At around the same time, Humphreys went through the complete scoring system in accruing 21 points for Oxford in the Varsity match at Twickenham back in 1995. Unfortunately Cambridge scored 26.

Humphreys even holds the Heineken Cup scoring record when he collected 38 points in swatting Wasps two seasons ago.

The European Cup, yes, remember 1999. That was a wonderful occasion when Ulster defeated 21-6 at Lansdowne Road and it was Humphreys who lifted the trophy for the province.

But probably the most satisfying for the non-drinking family man was against France three seasons ago.

O'Driscoll had, not for the first time, grabbed the limelight again with his hat-trick of tries in Ireland's victory.

Humphreys' halo was slipping then, and O'Gara was the man of the moment.

But called upon as a late replacement for the Munsterman, Humphreys rifled a 45-metre penalty right between the sticks to give Ireland their first victory in Paris for 27 years.

Humphreys, nicknamed ''Jackie'' after the Ireland legend Jack Kyle, has already signed a new two-year contract with Ulster.

So is there more to come from him on the international front?

I think there is another chapter to write, so don't close the book just yet, the World Cup is just around the corner.

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