Munster’s Francis Saili scores his second try against Ospreys in the Guinness PRO12 at Musgrave Park. Taken on Canon EOS-1D X, 100th sec @ f2.8. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Reader competition: The best sporting picture wins a Canon EOS 750D camera

Roscommon manager Kevin McStay on the sideline with  selector Liam McHale  during the league game against Kerry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kevin McStay’s tenure promised so much but the decline has been quick and awful

The Wales team lines up ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Ireland in Dublin. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Malachy Clerkin runs the rule over the visitors after an aggressive encounter in Dublin

Gareth Bale of Wales shoots from a free kick during the 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

There was a downbeat mood among the Ireland squad as they left the ground

 James McClean reacts after a missed chance during the World Cup Group D qualifier  against Wales at the   Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Malachy Clerkin runs the rule over Martin O’Neill’s side after Aviva Stadium draw in Dublin

Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s Kerry side almost managed to stop Dublin from completing a historic unbeaten run. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Kerry manager was impressed with his side after they managed a draw against Dublin

Punters outside Austin Stack Park on Saturday evening: “They’re just early. Way early. Even the stewards haven’t been let in. And still the diehards are here hours before throw-in.” Photograph: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Boisterous roses are in bloom, but it’s a long way to Tralee if you haven’t got a beer

Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan saw his side take a surprise 1-14 to 0-15 win over Mayo at MacHale Park in Division Two on Sunday. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

With only a straight final between top two sides in Division One this year, it’s cut-throat business

Kerry’s Paul Geaney tackles Michael Darragh Macauley of Dublin during Saturday’s draw in Tralee. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Paul Mannion’s late point denies the Kingdom victory in physical Tralee encounter

Cuala’s red and white colours fly on flags and bunting on Castle Street in Dalkey. The club’s hurlers play Clare’s Ballyea in the final of the AIB club championship  at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Two Darts have been commandeered to bring the Dalkey club’s supporters - Ultras and all - to Croke Park for the club hurling final(...)

Andrew McNamara on Hi Cloy (red and white) comes up on the outside to beat the race leader Central House ridden by Roger Loughran who appeared to think he had won. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jockey who showed class under pressure over a decade ago one of racing’s good guys

Istabraq and Charlie Swan are led back after winning their third  Champion Hurdle in a row in 2000. Photograph: Healy Racing

The Cheltenham Festival is a busy working week for racing photographer Pat Healy

Jamie Clarke in action against Donegal: “It was being over there and spending time away that made me realise what was at home.” Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Presseye/Inpho

Year in New York has merely whetted the appetite of one of Ireland’s top forwards

Conor Murray tried to play through the pain in Cardiff but was removed early in the second half as Wales all but ended Ireland’s Six Nations title hopes. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

After all the hype the tackle count tells the story of a brutally enthralling encounter

Dublin’s Michael Darragh Macauley and Tom Parsons of Mayo clash for the ball during their Allianz League tie at Croke Park. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

It’s now 33 games unbeaten for the All-Ireland champions, stretching over two years

Dublin’s Dean Rock gets in a tussle with Diarmuid O’Connor and Keith Higgins of Mayo during their Allianz League clash at Croke Park. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

It’s now 33 games unbeaten for the All Ireland champions as they brushed aside rivals

Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor scores a point against Roscommon in the last round. Mayo haven’t beaten Dublin in 10 attempts in the Jim Gavin era. No better time to start. Photograph: Inpho

Allianz Football League weekend previews

Wexford football manager Seamus McEnaney: “It fairly shortens the journey when you’re winning games.” Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

With the hurlers and footballers both on top of their league, optimism is running high

Bernard Brogan scores a goal against Monaghan. Of the 21 games under Jim Gavin that have been close, Dublin have  won 11, drawn six and lost four. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mayo return to Croke Park to face a Dublin team they’ve never beaten under Jim Gavin

 GAA Congress: you knew that there was more chance of them turning to face Mecca during Mass that evening than there was of the CPA getting a blessing. Photograph: James McCrombie

Carrying on with Super-8 proposals despite GPA and CPA opposition looks terrible

Director General of the GAA Paraic Duffy speaks to Westmeath county board chairman Sean Sheridan during Annual Congress on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

CPA recognition motion withdrawn, as Congress fail to grasp reality on the ground

GAA Congress has passed a motion to introduce the ‘Super 8’ into the Senior Football Championship. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

All-Ireland finals have also been brought forward three weeks into month of August

Jim Gavin: leads Dublin to Ballybofey as the All-Ireland champions seek to preserve their long unbeaten record. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Malachy Clerkin runs the rule over this weekend's Allianz League matches

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Claudio Ranieri after Wednesday night’s Champions League match with Sevilla. Photograph: Reuters

TV View: Lads, we've this new screen thingy – ye best stand beside it

St Patrick’s Westport’s Brian McDermott lifts the cup after his side’s victory in the All-Ireland intermediate club final. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Glenbeigh-Glencar and Westport were the teams celebrating after two dramatic games

 Waterford’s Pauric Mahony keeps one step ahead of Kilkenny challengers. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Donegal register first win of 2017, while London vanquish hot favourites Carlow

 Monaghan’s Colin Walshe and Conor Moynagh of Cavan. Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho

Low-scoring game like watching identical twins slap each other in the face for an hour

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald, with the league trophy he won with Clare last year, in Croke Park this week.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/inpho

Allianz Hurling League: round one previews

Micheál Ó Domhnaill and Brian Tyers at Croke Park

For two decades now, the Irish-language station has had sport as a key part of its make-up

John Allen, Aoife Ní Chonchúir & Michael Rice with Dara Ó Cinnéide on Seó Spóirt on TG4. Photo: Seó Spóirt TG4 Twitter

‘I disagree with it, they feel the days of sitting on a couch analysing games is gone,’ he said

Kildare manager Cian O’Neill will want his team to build on Sunday’s win. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Cian O’Neill’s side conjure an excellent response to O’Byrne Cup defeat to Dublin

Patrick McBrearty of Donegal and Darren McCurry of Tyrone at the Allianz Football League launch in Belfast this week. Photograph: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Allianz football league and All-Ireland club hurling semi-final

 Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Oireachtas Committee attacks FAI CEO John Delaney over refusal to answer for Fifa €5m

 Leighton Aspell riding Many Clouds (yellow/green) clears the last to win The BetBright Trial Cotswold Steeple Chase from Thistlecrack (orange) at Cheltenham Racecourse at the weekend. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Was 2015 Grand National winner run until he dropped? And are we okay with that?

Ciara Mageean at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/ ©Inpho

‘The mental legacy of a sports injury is an awful lot more traumatic than the physical’

Richie Sadlier celebrates scoring for Millwall in 2001, two years before injury forced him into retirement. Photograph: Tom Hevesi/ PA Wire

In the first of two-part series, Sadlier and Bryan Cooper speak about injury

Understanding the game? It’s rugby, chief. It ain’t astrophysics. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Golden opportunity wasted to hold chiefs of Irish sport to account on issues of substance

Dublin’s Colm Basquel with Eoin Doyle of Kildare during Saturday’s O’Byrne Cup encounter. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Cian O’Neill: ‘We are disgusted to lose like that, that we should have been controlling’

Lollipop questioning: Páraic Duffy, John Delaney and Philip Browne. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

John Delaney, Páraic Duffy and Philip Browne run rings around Dáil committee

 Dermot Earley: chosen as the new CEO of the Gaelic Players Association. “There is an appetite for change and we have been hearing that for a long time, certainly on the football side.”  Photograph:  Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The former Kildare midfielder is a safe pair of hands but he comes with a hard edge

Séamus Hickey (centre) with new Gaelic Players Association chief executive Dermot Earley (right) at a press conference yesterday. Hickey is the new chairman while  Seán Murphy is a member of the selection committee. Photograph: Sportsfile

Defender agrees seven-goal defeat in Munster Hurling League was unacceptable

The numbers become dizzying when it comes to TV rights cash. Photograph: Reuters

Uefa reckon financial fair play turned clubs’ fortunes around but they’re kidding nobody

Jim Furyk is expected to be announced as the US Ryder Cup captain for the 2018 match in Paris. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Lee Westwood’s horse resembled his attempts to win a major

Grassroots: 99 per cent of the GAA’s playing base is  club players. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Formation of Club Players’ Association will give focus to underlying anger with GAA

Kerry’s Brian Ó Seanacháin with Martin Dunne of Tipperary. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Fans brave bleak January to see players test mettle on soggy pitches across country

Meath’s Graham Reilly kicks for goal as Jamie Snell and Ross O’Brien of Wicklow try to block during the Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup match at Páirc Tailteann in Navan. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Graham Reilly marshals young Royal County side perfectly in one-sided rout in Navan

 New Meath manager Andy McEntee. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Couple of leading counties to play under-21 teams in early-season competitions

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt with Enda McNulty at Soldier Field in Chicago. “The best of the best are the ones who aren’t sceptical. They’re the ones who want to push it forward.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Life coach unperturbed by Joe Brolly’s criticism and proud of his new book ‘Commit’

A  packed RDS ahead of the Pro12 match between Leinster and Ulster: Rory Best, Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson did not feature. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

If the provinces’ stars are not playing, it is only fair that ticket-buyers know in advance

N’Golo Kanté of Chelsea: could win successive titles with different clubs. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty

Take a punt on these medium to long shots, and at least losing out won’t be a surprise

The Kilkenny players celebrate after seeing off Waterford in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final replay. Photograph: Inpho

Sports review of 2016: Malachy Clerkin reflects on an unforgettable evening at Semple Stadium as Kilkenny finally overcame Waterfo(...)

You’d hope  Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor gets to decide a game with an injury-time free before the clocks go forward. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill

Here’s to everyone who tried and came up short – i.e. the vast majority of sportspeople

Michael Parkinson with  Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on the ‘Dick Cavett Show’ in 1974. Photograph: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Iconic chat show host could not bring himself to interview Ali in his declining years

 Malachy Clerkin and Mary Hannigan (left) in conversation with Natalya Coyle, Sarah Rowe and Evanne Ní Chuilinn.  Eric Luke

Sarah Rowe, Mary Hannigan, Natalya Coyle and Evanne Ní Chuilinn give their views

Minister of State for Sport Patrick O’Donovan plans to introduce a 30 per cent gender quota for sporting bodies.

Investing in women’s sport at grassroots level a much more effective policy to pursue

The 18th green during the women’s golf final at the Rio Olympics in August. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Built in a protected forest reserve, the Rio course is likely to fall into ruin by early 2017

Kieran Donaghy’s autobiography ‘What Do You Think Of That?’ has been named Eir Sports Book of the Year. Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Kingdom stalwart picked up award for autobiography ‘What Do You Think Of That?’

Tyrone’s Cathal McCarron after losing to Mayo in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final to Mayo. Photograph: Inpho

You want to have sympathy for McCarron the addict but it’s harder to have it for the person

The  Donaghmoyne players celebrate with the cup following their All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Club final win over Foxrock-Cabinteely at Parnell Park. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Scoreline flatters defending champions as they defeat Foxrock-Cabinteely by seven

It’s 20 years since the first Season of Sundays (Sportsfile, €29.95) came out. The 2016 version is as rich and textured as the 19 that went before. This image shows kids in Galway fine-tuning their skills before a NHL encounter with Cork.

Muhammad Ali, Adrian Doherty, Paul O’Connell, others make up 2016’s best reads

Martin Comerford of O’Loughlin Gaels in action during the 2011 All-Ireland senior club final defeat to  Clarinbridge. Photograph:  Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The six-time All-Ireland winner lost his appetite for the intercounty scene

Cuala’s Con O’Callaghan. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Dublin champions hoping to atone for last season’s defeat in Leinster hurling final

Paul O’Connell on Second Captains: “The way we connect with supporters now has really, really changed.” Photograph: Tom Jenkins/Getty Images

Divide between players and public will deepen as long as all those cameras are around

Dr Crokes’ Johnny Buckley breaks the handle of the cup after lifting it up. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Waterford champions unable to provide a test for Kerry opponents in Munster final

Dr Crokes’ Colm Cooper and his team-mates can expect a tough test against The Nire in the Munster Club SFC final. Photograph: Inpho

Weekend club football previews: Dr Crokes should progress from Munster while Corofin can seal Connacht title

Eddie Pepperell at the European Tour qualifying school final stage at PGA Catalunya Resort, where he qualified. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Eddie Pepperell retains his card while getting to know darker, more insidious side of golf

The gravestone of Daniel Carroll, who was shot leaving Croke Park on Bloody Sunday. Photograph: Alan Betson.

The 13th victim killed at Croke Park gets fitting memorial after 96 years in an unmarked grave

I skipped right past fear and went directly to loathing

If sport is the opium of the masses, it’s a lot more fun than the US election

The Ireland team line up before their 1-0 win over Austria in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Vienna. Photo: John Walton/PA

Malachy Clerkin runs the rule over the team that made Irish football history in Vienna

Aiden McGeady, David McGoldrick and Harry Arter during Republic of Ireland training in Abbotstown. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland’s players are not world-beaters but they are no easy touch for any side either

Colin Doyle, Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle at Republic of Ireland training in Abbotstown. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle get warm welcome on first day in international set-up

 Diarmuid Connolly of St Vincent’s lifts the Clery’s Perpetual Trophy. Photo: Inpho

Marino club pick up 28th Dublin title but Castleknock no pushovers in first final

Club founder Johnny Corcoran (centre) with Mick Geraghty, chairman Charlie Spillane, and Oisín and Catherine Tolan at the Castleknock GAA grounds yesterday. Below: Castleknock players celebrating their semi-final win over St Jude’s. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

West Dublin club may have been in existence for just 18 years but have certainly made mark

St Vincent’s Dermot Connolly in action against Ballymun Kickhams’ Kevin Leahy at Parnell Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It’s hard to imagine St Vincent’s coming up against a better side than Ballymun this side of Christmas

Dick Clerkin made his debut for Monaghan in 1999. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Monaghan midfielder rides off into sunset after career spent fighting in the trenches

Ballygunner’s David O’Sullivan in action against Padraic Maher of Thurles Sarsfields during their Munster SHC clash. Photo: Inpho

Tipperary kingpins determined to improve on their pretty modest record in Munster

Cuala defenders Rob Reid and Paul Schutte battle for an aerial ball with Kilmacud Crokes’ Ryan O’Dwyer. The clubs meet again in the Dublin SHC final on Saturday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Coláiste Eoin can take credit for anything up to 26 players on Kilmacud and Cuala panels

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny celebrates winning the Premier League after victory over Bohemians at Oriel Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dundalk manager has long plotted his side’s eventful campaign on the European stage

Despite the success of the Tipperary intercounty side, the Tipp county football final is up against it, by the county board’s own hand. Photograph: Inpho

Malachy Clerkin: Each and every county prioritises one code over the other

The death of Anthony Foley has shocked the public in much the same way as Cormac McAnallen’s did  12 years ago. Photograph: Inpho

For Anthony Foley and Cormac McAnallen sport didn’t need to be put in perspective

Clare senior hurling’s new management team of Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

New hurling management team stepping up to finish venture of helping boys become men

Coalisland’s Cathaoir Quinn celebrates a goal against Killyclogher in the drawn Tyrone SFC final last week. Lorcan Doherty/Inpho.

Monaleen should have enough to see off Dromcollogher-Broadford in Limerick

Dublin celebrate after beating Mayo to win the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship for 2016. Photo: Inpho

The draws for the football and hurling championships took place on Thursday night

Mayo’s Lee Keegan is black carded by referee Maurice Deegan in the All-Ireland football final replay. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

In GAA world of extremes black card can’t just be an irritant. It has to be blight on game

Diarmuid Connolly scores a goal from the penalty spot for Dublin after Rob Hennelly had fouled Paddy Andrews in the square. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s changes come up trumps as his brilliant side claim back-to-back titles

Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly fouls Paddy Andrews to concede a penalty in the second half of the All-Ireland final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rob Hennelly struggled as Dublin attacked his restarts right from the get-go

Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan and Jonny Cooper battle for the ball with Mayo’s Andy Moran in the drawn All-Ireland final. Mayo were three points down in injury time before clawing their way back. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Dublin victory seemed only possible outcome two weeks ago but all that’s changed now

Dublin’s Brian Fenton chases  Donal Vaughan in the drawn All-Ireland final. Dublin’s reliance on young players such as  Fenton, Small and Kilkenny was evident two weeks ago.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Kilkenny, Fenton and Small dragged champions from their slumbers in drawn game

Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo will have grown in confidence since drawn All-Ireland final, believes rival manager

Mayo’s Lee Keegan and Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly during the drawn All-Ireland final. Photograph: Inpho

Brushes off suggestion of an orchestrated attempt to direct focus onto Mayo defender

Dublin’s Bernard Brogan celebrates after his side’s first goal as Kevin McLoughlin and goalkeeper David Clarke of Mayo look on dejected. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Keeping a clean sheet would go a long way to ensuring Sam Maguire goes west

Dublin’s Sinead Goldrick dejected after the TG4 Ladies Senior All-Ireland Championship Final at Croke Park. Photo: Inpho

Minority sports spend their time pushing against the consensus and then this happens

A despondent Liam McHale leaves the pitch after being sent  off in the 1996 All-Ireland final replay. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Malachy Clerkin looks back on a history of All-Ireland football final replays

Kilkenny’s JJ Delaney leaves the field as the sky turns dark after the All-Ireland hurling final replay between Kilkenny and Tipperary in 2014. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Teams, prize, venue may be identical, hardly anything else resembles All-Ireland final

Referee Conor Lane keeping Dublin’s Paul Flynn and Lee Keegan of Mayo apart. Photograph: INPHO/Cathal

Close your eyes and imagine Mayo had given away a three point lead in injury time

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly and Ciarán Kilkenny on the sideline in added time. It was one of the only times all day that Connolly had a chance to shoot at the posts without Lee Keegan stuck to his side. Photograph: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

It had never occurred to anyone that Mayo’s forwards would outscore the Dublin ones

Dublin’s James McCarthy with Aidan O’Shea of Mayo during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final at Croke Park. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Two own goals and an eventual draw were all the ingredients few were expecting on Sunday

James McCarthy’s stellar early-season form was interrupted by injury and he clearly wasn’t back to his smooth-running best against Kerry. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Malachy Clerkin runs the rule over Jim Gavin’s all-conquering side

Mayo’s chances could come down to the performance of Aidan O’Shea in Sunday’s All-Ireland final. Photograph: Gerry McManus/Inpho

Malachy Clerkin looks at the 15 players looking to help county win a first title in 65 years

Kevin MacManamon: “What he has that others don’t is an instinct to run at defenders with ball in hand and a directness that can be irresistible at times.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Dublin forward will start his first All-Ireland final against Mayo after upping his work-rate

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