Keith Earls: “I haven’t played in a Test in two years and if I get my chance I’ll be taking it. It can be your last.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Versatile Munster star back in the Ireland frame following a succession of setbacks

Jordi Murphy in action during an Ireland squad training session at Carton House on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Backrow says squad knows that World Cup places are up for grabs in ‘warm-up’ games

Cian Healy is tackled by  Michael Bent during Ireland training at Carton House on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald, Seán Cronin and Marty Moore to miss Wales game

Listening to Peter Alliss commentate called to mind the suggestion that it resembled watching an episode of Catchphrase. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Women’s British Open left poor old Peter Alliss badly exposed

USA player John McEnroe and non-playing captain Arthur Ashe prepare to take on Ireland at the RDS in the Davis Cup World Group game in 1983. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Ahead of Ireland playing South Africa a revamp for the ‘World Cup’ of Tennis is a necessity for its survival

IToulon-bound Paul O’Connell in action at Ireland rugby squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photograph: Dan Sheridan

Ireland secondrow was ready to retire from game before Toulon came in with offer

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney at a press conference in 2013 with former Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland fullback admits province lost a little bit of identity during O’Connor’s tenure

Seán O’Brien, Paul O’Connell and Rob Kearney wearing Ireland’s alternate World Cup jersey. Photograph:   Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Toulon-bound player outlines his change of heart about move to French superpower

Tommy Bowe believes the Ireland team have learned from the 2013 defeat to New Zealand Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Ulster and Ireland wing looks to World Cup warm up matches to make case for selection

Gavin Moynihan and partmer Jack Hume fought back tio win their match at the European Amateur team Championship at Halmstad, Sweden. Photograph: Getty

Gavin Moynihan and Jack Hume recover to win European Amateur quarters in Sweden

The Irish team celebrate winning the RBS Six Nations in 2014. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

RTÉ, BBC and ITV aim to buy rights to Six Nations Championship from 2018

“The moments when I missed it (playing) most was when they (Ireland) won the (2015) Six Nations,” says Andrew Trimble. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Injury and the recovery process have not stifled Ireland winger’s desire for the game

Jack Hume’s 68 at the European Amateur Men’s Team Championships in  Halmstad, Sweden has helped Ireland into third place, one shot behind France and Denmark after the opening 18 holes of qualifying. Photo: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ireland currently lie one shot behind joint leaders France and Denmark

Welsh referee Nigel Owens will take charge of Ireland’s key World Cup pool game against France in Cardiff. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland’s opener against Canada will see New Zealand’s Glen Jackson in charge

 Cormac Sharvin is one of four Irish players eligible for the  US Amateur Golf Championship at Olympia Fields Golf Club in Chicago next month. Photograph: Tony Marshall/R&A via Getty Images

Cormac Sharvin, Gary Hurley, Jack Hume and Gavin Moynihan could all line at Olympia Fields

Paul Dunne will tee it up at next month’s Open Championship at St Andrew’s after qualifying at Woburn. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

The 22-year-old finished first after 36 holes of qualifying at Woburn

RTÉ is “reasonably optimistic” of negotiating a solution that will allow it to continue its coverage of the Olympics from 2018 onwards. Photo: Valery Hache/Getty Images

IOC to receive €1.3 billion for the sale of the rights to Discovery Communications

Rory Best and Paul O’Connell at an open training session in Belfast earlier this year. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland will hold three open training sessions around the country in build-up to World Cup

Ian Keatley: left out of Ireland’s 45-man training panel for the World Cup.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

No place either for disappointed Ulster pair Luke Marshall and Robbie Diack

Ireland training sessions will be open to supporters. Photograph: Inpho

Ticketed sessions will be based at Carton House and the Galway Sportsground

 Isa Nacewa: “Leinster was the one club I wanted to play for and when the opportunity arose I just jumped at it.” Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty

Popular figure eager to resume his playing career with the province

New Toulouse coach Ugo Mola and new sporting director  Ugo Mola. Photo:  Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images

Guy Noves’s departure to France job sees new management and coaching combination

Connacht head coach Pat Lam is targeting success in the Challenge Cup as a route into the European Champions Cup. Photograph: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

Pat Lam’s side drawn against Russian opposition in pool one of Challenge Cup

Toulon’s Bryan Habana scores a try against Leinster in the Champions Cup semi-final last season. The clubs will meet in the group stage this time out. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ulster and Munster given tricky Champions Cup draws but shortest straw for Leinster

Leinster will face Toulon in Pool 5 of the 2015/16 Champions Cup. Photograph: Getty

Munster to play Top 14 champions Stade Français while Ulster get Saracens and Toulose

Ireland’s provinces in the Champions Cup draw will be hoping to avoid three-in-a-row champions Toulon. Photograph: Getty

The draw within a draw so important for both European rugby tournaments

 James McCarthy of Ireland and Scott Brown of Scotland during the draw at the Aviva stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

There was plenty more where that come from on the RTÉ soccer panel after Scotland draw

Emerging Ireland outhalf JJ Hanrahan runs at the Italian defence during the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup at the  Avchala Stadium. Photo: Inpho/GRU

JJ Hanrahan sets up three first-half tries against Italy in Tbilisi

National coach of to the GUI, Neil Manchip, with former Irish Open winner Shane Lowry, who he coaches personally, at Carton House GC, Maynooth. Photograph: Getty.

GUI national coach offers insight to why Ireland remains at cutting edge of world golf

Pádraig Harrington: calculated a couple of weeks ago that he would need 25 world ranking points to make it into the top 60 and secure a place at Chambers Bay. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Dubliner needs to be among world’s top 60 after this week’s FedEx St Jude Classic

Former Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes has signed  a three-year extension to his deal with Clermont Auverne. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster confirm the departure of 11 players ahead of the new season

Shane Lowry at Royal County Down golf club. He paid tribute to Rory McIlroy for what he did in assembling a high quality field and the patience and perseverance of the galleries. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Lowry finds greens at Royal County Down very hard to read

Nigel Carolan: “The World Cup is essentially five games in three weeks whereas during the Six Nations we had five games over two months. It’s very condensed, very intense.” Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Experienced players will be key to game plan, says Ireland Under-20s coach Nigel Carolan

Francesco Molinari of Italy walks down the ninth hole with Shane Lowry during the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle, Co Down, yesterday. Lowry finished four over par, just inside cut. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Former Irish Open winner putted with wedge for 15 holes after breaking putter in frustration

 Gary Hurley in action during the  Irish Open  at Royal County Down. “I drove the ball very well but my iron play let me down.”  Photo:  Andrew Redington/Getty

Hume, Hurley and Moynihan take away the positives from Open experience

 Michael Hoey plays his tee shot on the 13th during the first round. “You have to be patient. If you play match-play here you can be aggressive, go for everything, but in stroke play you can’t.” Photograph: Kevin Scott/Presseye/Inpho

The 36-year-old Northern Ireland man knows what is required over this famous links

Shane Warne, Darren Clarke and BBC presenter Stephen Watson share a joke after playing in the Irish Open Pro-Am at Royal Co Down. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images.

Stephen Ferris and Shane Warne show skills not confined to rugby and cricket

Cian Kelleher of Lansdowne (right). He and Clontarf’s Collie O’Shae are named on the squad to take on Barbarians on Thursday. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Selection for Ireland squad is a gilt-edged opportunity for the two young players

Eoin Reddan: “The important thing for a new guy coming in,  whoever it is, is that people buy into what he wants.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Departure of coach came as surprise and players ‘must take collective responsibility’

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor has been let go by the Irish province. Photo: Gary Carr/Inpho

Forwards’ coach Leo Cullen is to take over in the short term

Luke Fitzgerald:  “It was a no-brainer to have the surgery.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster star targeting a return in time for the World Cup warm-up games

Ian Madigan: “I probably hope that’s in the 12 position and, if Johnny is unfit or unavailable for whatever reason, then I’d be ready to step in to the outhalf position.” Photograph: Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster player looking to impress against Barbarians to nail down World Cup place

 Clontarf’s Matt Darcy: won both the “Top Try Scorer” and Division 1A player of the year. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Division 1A winners Lansdowne have three players up for awards in various categories

One of Ireland’s all-time great fullbacks Hugo MacNeill. He will be a member of the oversight board

IRFU has announced a board of oversight to combine strands needed for tender

Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey scores a try against Benetton Treviso during the Pro12 game at Kingspan Stadium in February. Photograph: Darren kidd/Inpho.

Golf may have been his first love but, after a growing spurt, rugby is his sole attraction

Leona Maguire has moved to number one in the ladies’ amateur world rankings. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Duke University student goes to number one in the amateur rankings

Iain Henderson has been cleared by a disciplinary committee agfter he was sent off during Ulster’s 23-23 draw with Munster. Photograph: Inpho

A disciplinary committee cleared Henderson after he was sent off in draw with Munster

Ben Te’o has adjusted well in his switch to Rugby Union this season. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The Leinster centre not ruling out playing international rugby in the future

Leinster assistant coach Richie Murphy: “Our squad is our squad.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Team will work with what they’ve got, says assistant coach

Lansdowne celebrate their triumph in the rugby Ulster Bank League Division 1A final at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Clontarf left to rue missed chances as challengers reel in nine-point second- half lead

Lansdowne celebrate their 18-17 win over Clontarf in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A final at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Inpho

Holders Clontarf left to rue missed opportunities as they are reeled in at the Aviva

Clontarf’s Matthew D’Arcy makes a break against Cork Constitution. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Lansdowne look to win title back against defending champions

Leinster’s Luke Fitzgerald: Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen said “He will certainly be out for the next two weeks. I don’t think it’s a World Cup issue.” Photograph: Inpho

Ireland international undergoes shoulder operation and joins the already sidelined prop Marty Moore and hooker Seán Cronin

 London Irish owner Mick Crossan fronted the consortium that bought the club in 2013. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Owner has hired former captain to help return club to its old standing and values

Rickie Fowler: “I had a great time. The fans were awesome at one of my favourite golf courses in the world.” Photograph:  Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Despite misfortunes on the course, American remains a class act

Munster’s Donnacha Ryan: with the World Cup looming the secondrow could benefit from playing for Emerging Ireland at the Tbilisi Cup in June. Photograph: Inbpho

Ireland coach Nigel Carolan announces 28-man squad for IRB Under-20 World Championship in Italy next month

Wayne Barnes will be the man in the middle for Leinster’s European Champions Cup semi-final against Toulon on Sunday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The referee has played a significant role in some of the province’s big European games

Paul O’Connell captained Ireland to  Six Nations Championshps success. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Paul O’Connell, Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton join the Connacht player in vying for top accolade

Declan Fitzpatrick scoring a try against the Dragons. The tighthead who was strong in the scrum and a marauding presence in the loose made 98 appearances for Ulster. Photograph: Inpho

Ulster prop leaves game on medical advice having won seven caps for Ireland

Leinster secondrow Kane Douglas has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a back injury. Photograph: Inpho

Australian international secondrow faces three months out with back injury

Jocelino Suta of Toulon wins the lineout during last year’s Heineken Cup semi-final between the French side and Munster at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. Photoraph: David Rogers/Getty Images.

France air control strike will not hamper flight plans for semi-final with Toulon

Ulster’s Ireland contingent of Iain Henderson, Jared Payne, Rory Best and Tommy Bowe do a selfie after the Six Nations Championship win against Scotland at Murrayfield last month. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

The Irish province signs Peter Browne and Paul Rowley for next season

Gordon D’Arcy: “All I can worry about is the next game. That’s all I can control. If I play my best game there, and that gets me into the team, great. If I play my best game and it doesn’t get me into the team, I’ve done all I can.”

Centre is no longer first choice for club and country but he is eager to change that

Fergus McFadden is following return-to-play protocols after getting  head injury during Leinster’s victory over Bath in the Champions Cup quarter-final

Wing sustained head injury against Bath while secondrow still struggling with back

Bundee Aki has been passed fit for Connacht’s match against Ulster next weekend.

Centre to return for first time since January for key Pro 12 derby clash in Galway

Jonathan Joseph burst onto the international scene in this season’s Six Nations Championship, finishing it as the top try scorer. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Bath and England centre has blossomed as a player since moving to Recreation Ground

French referee Jérôme Garcès, who refereed Ireland’s Six Nations defeat of Scotland at Murrayfield last month, will take charge of Leinster’s Champions Cup game against Bath at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Manner in which Leinster contest tackles and rucks crucial to progress of Matt O’Connor’s Irish province

Sky Sports have sealed exclusive rights to at least three of Ireland’s World Cup warm-up matches. Photograph: Afp

Games against Scotland and Wales won’t be available to watch on terrestrial television

Peter Stringer has 98 Ireland caps and has not given up hope of adding to that number. First up, though, is to find a new club, with Leinster among the sides rumoured to be interested in his services. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Former Ireland scrumhalf is leaving Bath but is eager to find a new club

This try against the Dragons was one of five in Craig Gilroy’s last four games for Ulster. Photograph: Ian Cook/Inpho.

Wing has scored five in last four matches and wants to extend run against Cardiff Blues

Seán O’Brien is back in the Leinster squad for the Champions Cup campaign. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/PA Wire

Healy, O’Brien and Nick McCarthy added to Leinster roster for Champions Cup

Dave Kearney says he’s delighted for the Irish team. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mixed feelings for injured players who played no part in Ireland’s triumph

Ian Madigan and Sean Cronin are set to return for Leinster in the Pro12. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland remain in third in World rankings after Six Nations triumph

Jonathan Sexton celebrates with Jared Payne after the Ulster back scored his first try for Ireland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Overseas press hail Ireland’s ability to move up gear in final-day shootout

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip makes the crucial try-saving tackle as Scotland fullback  Stuart Hogg loses possession and knocks on going over the try line during the Six Nations game at Murrayfield. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Tiny margins the order of the day as Joe Schmidt’s side make it back-to-back successes

Tommy Bowe:  He worked extremely hard all afternoon and made some excellent breaks for a 92-metre haul. A couple of offloads didn’t go to a teammate but that doesn’t take away from the impact he made. Rating: 7

As Ireland do more than is asked of them at Murrayfield, John O’Sullivan rates the Irish performances

With Irish roots and a newly discovered George Best link, Scottish speedster Stuart Hogg merits close attention

Under-20 Six Nations Championship head coach Nigel Carolan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Nigel Carolan’s team faces Scotland next after successive defeats to England and Wales

Lorcan Dow: ““We’re ready to move on and restore pride in the jersey.” Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Nigel Carolan’s side have Scotland in their sights

Ireland’s Mike Ross (right) and Rory Best tackle Wales’ Rhys Webb during the Six Nations game at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

‘Each referee will have his own strengths and weaknesses and you have to identify those and get on the right side of him’

Ireland number eight Lorcan Dow and centre Sam Arnold move in to tackle Wales’ Harrison Keddie during the Under-20 Six Nations match at Parc Eirias in  Colwyn Bay. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland number eight Lorcan Dow says side want to right wrongs from Wales defeat

Ireland’s lineout misfired badly at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Wales deserve huge credit but Ireland need to look at themselves after 23-16 defeat

Rob Kearney: A few early errors but grew into the game with some traditional high fielding and a willingness to carry ball repeatedly: some success in breaking first line of defence on cut-backs and was his side’s most effective ball carrier with 104 metres. Rating 6

John O’Sullivan rates the Irish performances in Cardiff

Welsh secondrow’s talent on the pitch will pose the biggest threat to Ireland in Cardiff

Ireland U-20s centre Garry Ringrose skips past Will Owen of England during the recent clash at Donnybrook. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Outhalf Ross Byrne says team determined to purge frustrations of home defeat to England

Wales lost seven of 18 lineouts in the first two matches, coughing up four against England and three to the Scots. They didn’t lose a single lineout against France the last day, winning all 10 throws.

Joe Schmidt’s side have carried the ball and passed more than any other team in the championship

Rory Best: “The Welsh [team] will probably see it as a chance to right a few wrongs.” Photograph: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho.

Ireland want to celebrate captain Paul O’Connell’s 100th cap with a victory

Gordon D’Arcy: 81 times capped Leinster centre has been left out of the Ireland squad to face Wales. Photograph: Craig Thomas/Inpho.

Gordon D’Arcy a notable omission from 36-man Ireland squad

Jeremy Loughman in action during the Under-20 Six Nations match against England at Donnybrook. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

‘Set-piece would be my first priority’ says loosehead prop

Luke Fitzgerald will start on  the wing for Leinster against Scarlets. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

Scarlets should be overcome by Matt O’Connor’s side

Donnacha Ryan makes his return to the Munster squad after a year of rehabilitation with a foot injury.

Donnacha Ryan may make return from bench against Ospreys

Samoan international Mike Stanley makes his first start for Ulster at inside centre. Photograph: Inpho.

Mike Stanley to make first appearance for province against Dragons

Padraig Harrington says he will have to make big changes to his playing schedule. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Win makes him eligible for five additional tournaments - ‘It’s a nice problem to have’

Padraig Harrington shakes hands with Daniel Berger on the second playoff hole during the continuation of the fourth round of The Honda Classic. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Three-time Major winner explains how his mindset changed between playoff holes

Isa Nacewa may be returning to Leinster next season with talk of his signing a year-long contract in a player/coach role. Photograph: Dan Sheridan /Inpho

Leo Cullen says squad needs to be bolstered, especially with players going to World Cup

Leinster say Zane Kirchner contract talks are at an advanced stage. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Isa Nacewa return in player/coach capacity is ‘miles off’ say province

Generally speaking Conor Murray’s box-kicking was wonderfully accurate and it was an area of the game in which Ireland generated huge currency in possession terms.

A fine 19-9 victory with just enough ‘work-ons’ to occupy Joe Schmidt and his management team over the next fortnight.

 Billy Vunipola makes a break at the Aviva Stadium. James Crombie/Inpho

John O’Sullivan assesses the English performances at the Aviva Stadium

Rob Kearney: A couple of loose kicks aside he was the personification of calm collection under the high ball and that infuses confidence in those around you. Rating: 7

How Ireland’s players rated in today’s 19-9 win over England

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