Munster’s Paul O’Connell salutes the crowd after the Guinness Pro 12 semi-final at  Thomond Park. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Secondrow admits win over Ospreys likely to be final game for Munster at Thomond Park

John Cooney comes in at scrumhalf for Connacht with Kieran Marmion out injured. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

Pat Lam says players are battered and bruised but hugely motivated for trip to Kingsholm

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend: his team  have won 16 of their 22 Pro12 games in the regular league. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Coach hopes energy from Scotstoun crowd can spur victory over Ulster

Alastair Seeley leads William Dunlop during qualifying at the Northwest 200. William and his brother Michael were riding behind their father Robert when he died in a crash during practice on the circuit in 2008. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Dunlop brothers and peers keep coming back in this celebration of fearless ability

“I’ve always been able to be calm on the pitch,” says Ulster outhalf Paddy Jackson. “I’ve learned over the years because I came in at a young age and I’ve had a lot of experience of ups and downs.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster outhalf finding voice on pitch after struggling in previous years to impose himself

Gordon D’Arcy could make his final home appearance for Leinster off the bench as they try to ensure a top-six finish. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Leinster aim to keep Pro12 destiny ‘in our own hands’ as D’Arcy faces final home game

Cian Healy is likely to miss the rest of Leinster’s season as he battles with a neck injury. Photograph: Inpho

Prop’s neck a concern for Irish camp with August internationals likely return date

Irish Sports Council chief executive John Treacy says criminalising doping should be considered. Photograph: Inpho

ISC chief executive says that jailing athletes who cheat would be a major step forward

Eoin Reddan and Leinster have two Pro 12 games left to ensure they finish in the Champions Cup qualification places. Photograph: Afp

Matt O’Connor’s side have two games to hold on to a Champions Cup qualification place

Ulster’s Darren Cave believes being knocked out of Europe early on has helped his side domestically. Photograph: Inpho

Centre believes lack of success in Europe has boosted Ulster domestically

Wexford woman is back to full health and looking forward to further successes

 Isa Nacewa in action for Leinster in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Biarritz in 2013. The utility back has not played professional rugby since retiring at the end of that season. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Grenoble coach believes fullback is gifted genetically and different from most players

CJ Stander: “I just go out to do my best in the red jersey. It is all about the team but it is great to be selected for awards like this.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

South African backrow forward will be available to play for Ireland after World Cup

Isa Nacewa is returning to Leinster for the 2015-16 season. Photo:  Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Matt O’Connor believes Fijian will play vital role during World Cup window

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal lays off a pass during Munster A’s game against Ulster Ravens at Nass RFC. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Versatile former New Zealand under-20 captain taking it all in his stride

Swim Ireland’s high performance director Peter Banks: I think the environment will be good for everybody. It will certainly help [Irish swimming] if he does what he is capable of doing.” Photograph: Inpho

Swim Ireland’s high performance director Peter Banks believes Ryan, who made last year’s USA team, would add to system

Luke Fitzgerald has played 663 minutes for Leinster in the Pro12 this season, 41.4% of the total 1,600. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald the only Ireland starter to feature in over 40% of province’s game time

A previous all-French final between Toulouse and Perpignan at Lansdowne Road in 2003 attracted a crowd of less than 30,000. Photograph: Getty Images

Just 5,000 fans from Clermont and Toulon expected to make the trip to Twickenham

Victor Connell in his home in Co Longford. After his accident 10 years ago, the local community rallied around Victor and gave their time and money in the building of his home. “I knew almost everybody who worked on it,” he says. Photograph: Alan Betson

Victor Connell was tired when a late scrum was called. When it hit, the hooker heard his neck pop. It was a moment that was to cha(...)

Scott Evans recently made the top 25 in the world rankings in Badminton with only four other European players ahead of him. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

OCI select 36 competitors in 10 events in first tranche of entries for inaugural event

Chris Henry  is hoping Ulster can use Leinster’s short turnaround to their advantage in Ravenhill. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Presseye/Inpho

Ireland flanker hoping for his second start of year since his stroke in November

 Paddy Barnes fights Zou Shiming in the light flyweight semi-final at the London Olympics in 2012. The 28-year-old is set to compete at the record-breaking third Olympics. Photograph: Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Belfast fighters’ success in World Series of Boxing in Venezuela sees them set for Rio

Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony return to the Munster side for their game against Edinburgh at Murrayfield. Photogrpah: James Crombie/Inpho.

O’Connell, O’Mahony and Murray add top quality for Munster’s trip to Murrayfield

Andy Lee’s fight in New York on Saturday night is no longer for the Limerick man’s middleweight title belt

Fight with Peter Quillin will still go ahead in New York but Lee’s world title won’t be on the line

 Andy Lee in action against Matt Korobov during their fight for a vacant WBO middleweight title  belt in Las Vegas last December. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images

World champion faces unbeaten American Peter Quillin in his first title defence

Andy Lee in action against Matt Korobov. “That fight, to be completely honest, was a make-or-break fight for me,” says Lee. Photograph: David Becker/Ggetty

Limerick man puts his world title on the line against Peter Quillin in New York

Ian Madigan kicks for goal in Leinster’s European Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Bath. He landed six from six on the day. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Playmaker’s contribution from the tee has been crucial in recent games

Leinster’s Fergus McFadden was knocked out by Kyle Eastmond’s tackle during their European Champions Cup quarter-final against Bath. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Leinster winger respects the concern showed by his opposite number Matt Banahan

Leinster’s Rob Kearney waves to the crowd after the victory over  Bath in the European Champions Cup quarter final at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

‘Right now, we’ve got a very tired but happy bunch in there’

Mils Muliaina in action for Connacht against Gloucester on Friday. He was taken to Cardiff after the game for questioning about an alleged assault on a woman there last month. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Connacht player arrested over an alleged incident in Cardiff city on March 6th

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip and Matt O’Connor are hapy with the performance of their scrum in the win over Bath. Photo: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Matt O’Connor and Jamie Heaslip content as Bath camp frustrated with penalties

Mark English with his 800m silver medal from the European Championships. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

800m runner is focused on medals in this year’s Beijing World Championships

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor speaks during a press conference in UCD. Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Leinster coach points to set-pieces as being crucial if Bath are to be reined in

Irish men’s hockey is facing its biggest controversy in years.

Irish Hockey Association seek confirmation from teams on their intentions for 2015/’16 season

Jamie Heaslip will captain Leinster against Bath on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Kane Douglas the only injury ahead of season defining Champions Cup quarter-final

South African flanker Francois Louw believes emergence of such English talent as George Ford and Jonathan Joseph bodes well for Somerset club. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Matt O’Connor’s side told to expect much tougher contest than in 2011

 Ireland’s Conor McGregor at a press event at the Convention Centre in Dublin ahead of his UFC world featherweight title fight against Brazilian Jose Aldo in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, in July. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Irish star talks the talk in Dublin ahead of Las Vegas UFC title fight

Banbridge’s Stephen Dowds celebrates scoring the first goal against Cork Church of Ireland  in the Irish Senior Cup men’s final at the National Hockey Stadium in UCD. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork Church of Ireland in it until the end but Wright goal seals victory for Ulster team

George Gibney: a judicial review prevented the case from proceeding due to the length of time elapsed since the alleged incidents took place

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan brought up case in Dáil without mentioning Gibney by name

Connacht coach Pat Lam has had to utilise his full squad for the Pro12 game at Thomond Park against Munster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Both teams are missing some key players for crucial game in Limerick

The IRFU’s Dan Downey sets up the GPS units on the Aviva Stadium’s pitch ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations game against France in February. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

The use of GPS has revolutionised how the players prepare and recover from matches

Ireland’s captain Paul O’Connell was voted RBS Six Nations player of the tournament for 2015. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Captain played starring role on the pitch and through his leadership as Ireland claimed back-to-back Championships

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

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