The fallout after the 65-48 vote in favour of the Ulster Hockey Union (UHU) not taking part in the IHL will instantly confound players in Ulster teams, many of whom see the IHL as a step up in standards. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

After a vote the province has decided not to co-operate with their governing body

Leo Cullen with the Leinster squad at UCD. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leo Cullen says victory over league leaders needed to stay in touch with top four

Ospreys’ Dan Biggar is set to win the Rhino Golden Boot for most points in the Pro 12. His 93.3 per cent record from the tee is the best seasonal record ever for a regular kicker in a major league. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster’s trip to Glasgow could have major consequences for playoff places

Robbie Henshaw’s brilliant catch and try was the highlight of Ireland’s  19-9 Six Nations  win over England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1st. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

From Keatley’s boot in Rome to Henshaw’s flying catch try to the finale of all finales

French referee  Jerome Garces:  Given Ireland’s penchant for competing in the air, the recent decisions by Garces may haunt them in Edinburgh.  Photograph: Inpho

Whistleblowers who could play pivotal role in the final destination of the championship

Scotland’s Stuart Hogg in action against England at Twickenham Stadium. Hogg is a  potential match winner for Scotland with his ability to break. Photograph: Getty Images

Scots face the possibility of their third Six Nations whitewash since 2004

Robbie Henshaw, Jared Payne, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney and Jonathon Sexton at an Ireland squad training session at Carton House, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Inpho

Six Nations Championship: If Wales by more than 21 points in Rome, every additional point in their winning margin increases the ne(...)

The general idea is that a national league will promote standards and that Ireland will benefit from that and put itself in a better position to qualify for world events such as the Olympic Games

Irish hockey wants to form an all-Ireland league but Ulster are not convinced

Scotland’s head coach Vern Cotter has made two changes to his team to face Ireland. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA

Coach Vern Cotter has stuck with his backs for the final match of the championship

Scotland’s Ross Ford goes on the attack against Italy at Murrayfield during the Six Nations game last month. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

They hope a victory over Ireland in Edinburgh will launch their World Cup campaign

Rob Kearney in reflective humour at training camp ahead of the  Scotland game. Photograph: Inpho

Fighting talk: Fullback says side needs to give Scotland game ‘right bash’ after Wales loss

Italy captain Sergio Parisse is a doubt for their concluding Six Nations game against Wales. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters.

Ireland have a clean bill of health but Italy may miss their captain Sergio Parisse

Rob Kearney says Ireland believe they can win the Six Nations championship next Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Rob Kearney understands post-Cardiff criticism but still has eyes on Six Nations trophy

Ireland’s Paul O’Connell hands off Luke Charteris as he makes a line break in the first half agaisnt  Wales. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

O’Connell admits mistakes cost Ireland against Wales but already looking forward to next week’s match against Scotland

Ireland will be part of a ten-team tournament in Argentina with potentially six places available for Rio 2016 on the line.

The next phase in Argentina will be a much more difficult prospect for the Irish side

Rory Best during Ireland’s Captain’s Run at the Millennium Stadium two years ago, the last time they played Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Ireland have fared well in Cardiff in recent years playing with the roof open

Devin Toner aims to better his rucking by replicating Paul O’Connell’s technique. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Lock is not getting caught up in Grand Slam hype and wants to improve his performances

Ciarán Gaffney returns to the Ireland under-20s side after hamstring injury. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho.

Although Ireland lost to England last time out, they can still win the championship

“As the games go on, it just gets more difficult because teams have more footage of you and they know what to expect.”

Prop knows what to expect from Wales but it won’t make the game any easier

Ireland captain Conor Niland encourages his side during their 5-0 defeat to Belarus at Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club. Photograph: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Conor Niland hopes to have his best players available for the relegation playoff in July

Mils Muliaina returns to the Connacht side for their Pro12 game against Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

After scoring seven tries against Treviso last week Pat Lam’s side travel with confidence

George Gibney: the national swimming coach from 1984-1991 was arrested in 1993 and charged on 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge. A judicial review in 1994 prevented the case from proceeding due to the length of time elapsed since the alleged incidents took place

Fitzgerald responds to Dáil queries about Olympic coach George Gibney who lives in US

 Jason Quigley will take on Lanny Dardar in Los Angeles on Friday night. Photograph: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

New era of successful Irish boxers on the cards with two fighting over the coming weeks

Katie Taylor at the OCI promotion  ‘100 Days to Go’ marking a countdown the European Games. “It’s a huge occasion and I think that in years to come it will be massive for European athletes.” Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland will send a strong team of 62 to the first edition of the Games in Azerbaijan

Conor Murray: “You do have a game plan and, under any coach, there’s a game plan that you try and follow it as best you can.” Photograph: Inpho

Game plan and orders critical but team not machine-like, says scrumhalf

Robbie Henshaw celebrates with Conor Murray after his try Photo: Inpho/James Crombie

Man-of-the-match employs manoeuvre practised with Conor Murray to deadly effect

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell with his son Paddy following the Six Nations win over England at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

‘Yeah I’d say that’s probably my last home Six Nations match against England’ says Ireland skipper

Tiernan O’Halloran will get his first start of the season at fullback in Sunday’s match at the Sportsground. Photograph: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Pat Lam calls for improved defence against Treviso in Guinness Pro 12

Denis Hurley  leads Munster for  the third consecutive game when they face Glasgow in Musgrave Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Despite home advantage in Cork, the province know the Scots will be hungry to stay top

Ireland’s Simon Geoghegan scores a try against England at Twickenham in 1994 Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The two teams have served up all sorts of twists and turns in their colourful history

Ireland under-20 winger Stephen Fitzgerald scores his side’s try during the Six Nations game against England at Donnybrook. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tries from Piers O’Connor and Joe Marchant enough for world champions

Munster’s Alan Quinlan wrestles with Leicester’s  Neil Back during the 2002 Heineken Cup final at the  Millennium Stadium in  Cardiff. Photo:  David Rogers/Getty Image

Both men part of TV3’s team of pundits for next September’s competition

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper:  “You can’t say at this point who is favourite or not favourite.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

World Rugby chief says Ireland are terrific candidates to host the game’s top event

 Garry Ringrose is one of the exciting talenst on the Irelanf under-20 team. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland are unbeaten but face a tough challenge from a physical England side

TV3 has today announced that all 48 matches will be shown free to air on TV3. Pictured (L-R) Sinead Kissane, Stuart Barnes, Neil Back, Hugo MacNeill, Conor McNamara, Keith Wood, Shane Jennings, Laim Toland and Murray Kinsella. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Peter Stringer, Shane Jennings and Liam Toland are all among the panelists

Jared Payne and Cian Healy in conversation after a training session at Carton House. Photograph: Alex Connolly/Inpho

Prop has no interest in looking back now he is finally on cusp of reclaiming jersey

Simon Zebo has had few chances to play his attacking, running game but insists he is more than happy to be part of a winning Ireland side. (Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Winger has fewer chances to express himself but happy to graft towards a Six Nations win

Simon Easterby says Ireland play the game by the rules and are not a dangerous side. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Forwards coach says Cian Healy is approaching complete match fitness

England captain Chris Robshaw: “He has unreal work rate. He goes about his business quietly. He is one of those fellas who doesn’t say much but he leads by example. That’s part of their culture and he is a good example of what they are trying to do and the person he is.”

Nullifying the England captain’s effectiveness at the Aviva a must if Ireland are to prevail

Roger Wilson of Ulster(above) and Billy Holland of Munster have been added to the Irish squad. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Number eight will not play against England but stays with Ireland squad to rehab back injury

Ireland’s Tommy O’Donnell is available to play for Munster against Scarlets in Wales today. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Coach Anthony Foley can name a stronger side as they travel to play Scarlets

Craig Ronaldson comes into the Connacht side at inside centre. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Dragons are in a confident mood after beating Leinster last week in Dublin

Jimmy Gopperth scored Leinster’s second try in their 29-8 win over Zebre at the RDS. (Photorgraph: INPHO/James Crombie)

Matt O’Connor’s men trail for whole of first half but Cian Healy arrives to help turn the game

Sean O’Brien and celebrated chef Catherine Fulvio  launch Bord Bia Ham and Bacon campaign, which runs from Monday 23rd February to Sunday, 22nd March.

Seán O’Brien and Tommy Bowe make use of their free time as huge England test looms

Peter Stringer: “I think he’s been doing a great job for Bath,” says Leinster coach Matt O’Connor. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Coach Matt O’Connor may look at Peter Stringer as a replacement scrumhalf

Ulster’s Iain Henderson (left) will get much- needed game time against Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho.

The Irish lock needs more game time in his legs to get up to speed for Ireland and Ulster

YMCA U-14s celebrate their victory in the Tommy O’Sullivan Indoor Cup last week.

In Leinster Senior League, Railway face a tricky test against Three Rock Rovers

Clongowes hooker John Moloney throws in at a lineout during the warm-up to the Leinster    Schools Senior Cup quarter-final against St Michael’s at Donnybrook. Photograph:   Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Clongowes spokesperson says hooker John Molony showed ‘no symptoms of concussion’

Leinster and Ireland flanker Shane Jennings will retire from rugby at the end of the season. Photograph: Clive O’Donohoe/Inpho

Michael Swift will also retire to end 15-year stay at Connacht

Ireland’s Conor Murray heads down the tunnel of the Aviva Stadium after the  game against France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster scrumhalf has yet to beat Stuart Lancaster’s team in his international career

Johnny Sexton delivered a man of the match performance on his long awaited return from concussion, orchestrating Ireland’s 18-11 Six Nations win over France at the Aviva Stadium. (Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Johnny kicks Ireland to victory and takes hefty blow to the head in man of the match performance

France’s centre Mathieu Bastareaud is tackled by Scotland hooker Ross Ford  at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, nearParis. Photograph: Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty Images

Eight Irish players carried 10 or more against Italy, with Jared Payne making the most ground

The Netherlands’  Robert Tigges  and Austria’s Benjamin Stanzl in action during the men’s Indoor Hockey World Cup final  in Leipzig, Germany. The Netherlands won 3-2.

Former Ireland goalkeeper set to compete at senior level in every decade from the 70s

 Ireland’s Andrew Trimble will miss the rest of the season with a toe injury.  Photograph: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Ulster insist Ireland wing’s toe injury is not ‘career-threatening’

Craig Gilroy (right) is set to win his 100th Ulster cap tomorow night. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Ulster

Ulster winger Craig Gilroy will become the youngest player to win 100 provincial caps

Leinster second row Kane Douglas. Photograph: Clive O’Donohoe/Inpho

Former Wallaby internationals have urged the ARU to change their policy on players

John Treacy: “We’ve seen loads of evidence down through the years of people who scrape in around July and by the time the Olympics come around they don’t have it.” Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Investment package of €19.6 million destined for Irish sporting bodies this year

England’s centre Jonathan Joseph  evades the tackle of Wales winger George North to score a try during the Six Nations match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Ireland wait on Rory Best but no return to training until protocol fulfilled

“Johnny has been training over the last couple of weeks with the rest of the squad. He’s been getting his reps in so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney all should be fit for Dublin showdown

St Michael’s fall just short in dying minutes of Leinster schools cup quarterfinal match

 Leinster will face Bath at the Aviva Stadium on April 4th.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne / Inpho

Province will face Bath on Saturday, April 4th, Connacht to meet Gloucester on the 3rd

The three Mescalleros: Brent Pope, Tom McGurk and George Hook.

RTÉ presenter tells RTÉ Radio how RTÉ TV show brought the good word of rugby to the masses

Andy Lee will defend his WBO middleweight title against Peter Quillin, with the winner to take on Billy Joe Saunders. (Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan)

The Irish WBO middleweight champion will make his first title defence in New York

Jason Quigley has won his first three fights as a  professional and will be in action next on March 6th in Los Angeles. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The Irish middleweight will fight on March 6th in his fourth professional bout

Sergio Parisse will captain Italy against Ireland in Saturday’s Six Nations opener in Rome. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Furno sounds positive note ahead of Six Nations opener in Rome

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt: Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Nation’s first Friday night fixture scheduled for Cardiff on March 10th

APB fighter David Oliver Joyce can qualify for the 2016 Olympics Games almost 18 months before they start in Rio. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

The two Irish boxers are just two wins short of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games

Devin Toner is full of optimism and hope in their first game and with a clean sheet and the opportunity to get their championship off to a winning start. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The Irish lock knows Ireland are favourites but have their heads screwed on this week

Lorcan Dow, Nick McCarthy, head coach Nigel Carolan and Rory Moloney of the Irish Under 20s who have named their team for the Six Nations opener against Italy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Coach Nigel Carolan has picked five players to start the game who were capped last year

Ireland women’s head coach Tom Tierney and Ireland women’s captain Niamh Briggs. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Former scrumhalf Tom Tierney takes charge of the team for his first Six Nations event

Conor Murray: “I’ve done my contact, I’ve done my bag work, I’ve tackled a few of the lads and I feel good,

Ireland scrumhalf has no fears of facing Italy after injury but Jamie Heaslip still waiting on all-clear

Ireland Wolfhounds’ Keith Earls is tackled by England Saxons’ Sam Burgess during the match at Musgrave Park in Cork. Photograph: Getty Images

Despite a quiet representative union debut for the Saxons, England look set to give former league star every chance

Ian Madigan, who has been named at outhalf for the Ireland Wolfhounds. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Irish team is full of Test players needing game time and returning from long injury

Ireland men’s hockey team are hoping to bridge a 67-year gap and be the first to qualify for the Olympic Games in a team sport since the soccer team did in 1948. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

It’s a big year for Irish hockey with both the men and women hoping to go to Rio 2016

Kieran Marmion: “Joe doesn’t really take any backward steps. When you are in here you really have to know what is going on. You have to know the detail. They won’t wait for you. That certainly does take some getting used to. You have to adapt quickly or else you get left behind.”

Injuries could open the Wolfhounds door for Connacht scrumhalf

Jack McGrath: “It’s a mistake I hopefully will never make again.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Leinster prop has ended three-week ban for stamping on Rory Best

Ian Madigan, who may play at outhalf on Friday for the Wolfhounds, will be looking to bounce back after uncharacteristically missing four kicks against Wasps. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster back has had limited time in position where there is now an Irish crisis

 Kieran Marmion breaks free to scores his Connacht’s opening try against La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Round 6. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Schmidt hoping Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan can recover from injuries

Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon and Pro12 chief executive John Feehan. Feehan said “I am certain that we will sell it out even if there is no Irish team in the final, although, frankly I’d be quite surprised if there wasn’t”. Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Organisers are confident that Ravenhill final will sell out even without Irish involvement

Adam Nolan lands with a left in his welterweight title fight against John Joe Joyce during the   National Senior Elite Championships at the  National Stadium. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Ireland captain unhappy at opponent’s use of head at National Stadium

Darren O’Neill: “That lad I’m fighting Friday night is very, very big for a heavyweight. He’s very muscular. I’ve a big task ahead of me.” Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Former middleweight champion takes on Ken Okungbowa in national final

Connacht head coach Pat Lam says he wouldn’t be working in Galway if the province didn’t match his ambition. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Former All Black wants to continue moulding culture of leadership in west

 (L-R) Lorcan Dow, captain Nick McCarthy, head coach Nigel Carolan and Rory Moloney of Ireland U20s. (Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Team will play in Dublin for the first time since 2005 when they take on England at Donnybrook

Leinster’s Michael Bent tries to evade    Richie Gray in the province’s Champions Cup match against Castres at the RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Prop was criticised on arrival in Ireland but now feels he’s starting to realise his potential

 Leinster’s  Eoin Reddan (right) spent four seasons at Wasps. Photograph: Cathal Noonan / Inpho

Leinster will have to improve on their performance against Castres in Coventry

Seán O’Brien is back in training and “improving every day” according to skills coach Richie Murphy. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The province can make one change to squad for Champions Cup clash against Wasps

Sean O’Brien and Cian Healy are in line to make their returns from injury against London Wasps at the weekend. (Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

Ireland internationals in line to make their returns against London Wasps at the weekend

Ulster coach Neil Doak: “We know that it’s not going to be easy this weekend.” Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Understrength province facing a daunting task against reigning champions

Ireland’s most capped player Ronan Gormley returns to add some much-needed experience. Photograph: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

They will face the hosts, Belgium and the Netherlands before qualifiers in San Diego

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor watched Castres lose to Stade Francais in the French Top 14.

The Leinster coach will be ready for whatever the French team brings this week

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip in action against Harlequins’ Matt Hopper at the Aviva Stadium in December. Heaslip has recovered from a shoulder injury and is fit to face Castres. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Durable Irish number eight’s fitness record phenomenal in modern day rugby

Jamie Heaslip at a Leinster press conference in UCD. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Leinster captain has recovered from a shoulder injury picked up against Ulster

Leinster’s Dave Kearney (in white) is hoping to secure wing birth for the province’s European Cup tie against Castres on Saturday. Photograph: Simon King/Inpho

Competition for a place on the wing for Leinster almost as competitive as it is for Ireland

Jack McGrath runs risk of longer ban if appeal is rejected. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The province are considering appealing the three match ban handed to Jack McGrath

Seán Cronin says Leinster are determined to start well against Castres in the Champions Cup and get the RDS crowd into the game. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Unflappable Ireland hooker hopes Leinster can improve on their win over Cardiff

  Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip receives treatment on his shoulder from physio Garreth Farrell. Photograph: James Crombie / Inpho

Seán O’Brien and Cian Healy remain ‘long-shots’ to be involved this month

Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar: Ulster will hope the pair are passed fit to face Connacht. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Visitors have not been able to earn a win against Ulster at Ravenhill since 1960

Leinster’s Shane Jennings was sidelined for 13 weeks after tearing his hamstring against Connacht. Photograph: Billy Stickland/inpho

Rugby derby may be missing big names but history will make it a spectacle

Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen: “I’m concerned about preparing a team to go down and play in Thomond Park and we know it is a very difficult place to go to.”Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Leinster forwards’ coach Leo Cullen not sure of who will be in the line-up at Thomond Park

Devin Toner has signed a new two-year national contract and will remain at Leinster until  the summer of 2017. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Forwards coach claims secondrow has established himself at the highest level

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