Ulster Rugby squad training at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, ahead of their Pro12 semi-final against Glasgow at Scotstoun. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho.

Everything will need to click for Neil Doak’s side to reach final at Glasgow’s expense

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast: would prove an intimidating home venue for Ulster in the final should they overcome Glasgow this weekend. Photograph: William Cherry/Presseye/Inpho

Rory Best expecting a massive effort from the visitors to Scotstoun Stadium

Tom Daly: Leinster academy player was sent by club to participate in Ireland’s Sevens programme but he said if given a choice, ‘I would have went for it’. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ireland’s Sevens programme begins next month – and team faces uphill battle to Rio

Connacht coach Pat Lam had set his sights on a top-six finish from very start. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Ultimate goal of finishing in top six may elude coach Pat Lam

Ian Humphreys will start at outhalf for Ulster in their game away to Glasgow. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Inpho/Presseye

Neil Doak rests some key players ahead of play-off push

Colm O’Shea starts beside Noel Reid at centre in Matt O’Connor’s side’s final Pro12 match. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Centre given chance to impress in Edinburgh after team’s dismal showing against Treviso

Ian Madigan starts at outhalf for Leinster’s final Pro 12 game of the season away at Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho

Colm O’Shea makes seasonal debut after All-Ireland league final defeat with Clontarf

Dublin’s Rory O’Carroll is a doubt for his side’s Leinster football quarter-final on May 31st while hurler Paul Ryan has criticised the new penalty system introduced at Congress. Photograph: Sportsfile

Dublin hurler Paul Ryan criticises new penalty format introduced at Congress

Dublin fullback Rory O’Carroll would not chance playing on if he were to suffer another head injury. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Head injury is a concern in all sports and Gaelic games is no different

Grace Davitt and Lynne Cantwell after Ireland’s remarkable defeat of the All Blacks in the 2014 World Cup. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland’s hosting of the competition shows how the sport has advanced

Irish Rugby ambassador Fiona Coghlan, Ireland Women head coach Tom Tierney,  IRFU chief executive Philip Browne and team captain Niamh Briggs at the announcement that Ireland will host the 2017 tournament. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Running costs of €3.5m expected with funding likely from North but not the State

Ulster’s Iain Henderson faces disciplinary hearing in Wales today after being sent off against Munster on Saturday. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho/Presseye

Home semi-final for Ulster in Pro 12 still possible if results elsewhere go their way

Cian Healy has undergone surgery on a disk in his neck. Photograph: Inpho

27-year-old underwent surgery on a disk and remains a doubt for September’s World Cup

Gordon D’Arcy in action for Leinster against Treviso in his final home match for the province. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Gordon D’Arcy and Shane Jennings make final home appearances for the club

The black card: Leinster Council chairman John Horan says there were incidents in the All-Ireland Under-21 final that looked like they should have resulted in black cards. Photograph: Inpho.

John Horan says it is now becoming a source of debate

County captains at Farmleigh yesterday: Kildare’s Eamonn Callaghan, Donal Keegan of Meath, Paul McConway of Offaly, John O’Loughlin of Laois, Denis Bastick of Dublin, Kevin Diffley of Longford, Dean Healy of Wicklow, Ciaran Lyng of Wexford, Adrian Reid of Louth and Kieran Nolan of Carlow. Photograph: Inpho.

‘We’ll play and we’ve always played where we’re told to play,’ says Dublin manager

Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness believes his county will overcome the challenge of Tyrone in Ballybofey. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Former Donegal manager enjoying his current role in the Celtic backroom team

 Jim McGuinness: “For me it’s a good opportunity to go on the other side.” Photo: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho

Broadcaster confident of increased viewing figures over new GAA championship season

Tyrone under-21 selector Peter Canavan doesn’t coach or condone cynical play. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

All-Ireland winning under-21 selector believes victory bodes well for county’s senior team

Tyrone’s Kieran McGeary keeps an eye on Paul Maher as the Tipperary man slides along the wet turf of Parnell Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Tyrone manager Fergal Logan refused entry to rival dressing room after gripping decider

Tipperary’s Paul Maher is tackled by Kieran McGeary of Tyrone. Photograph: Inpho

Red Hand hold on at Parnell Park to seal fourth U-21 All-Ireland title

A teenage Gordon D’Arcy at Ireland squad training in 1998. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Inpho

Ireland centre delivered on rare ability in 2004 when he was named player of season

Gordon D’Arcy has announced he will retire after this year’s World Cup. Photograph: Inpho

35-year-old picked up 81 international caps and scored seven tries in 17-year career

Paul O’Connell launching  the new adidas Climachill Product Range in Dublin. “I really wish I had a bit more clarity for you.”  Photo: Billy Stickland/Inph

Legendary secondrow denies there is any move to Toulon on the cards

Paul O’Connell  launches the new adidas Climachill product range in  Dublin. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland captain admits ‘there is a part of me that would love to have the decision made for me’

Jamie Heaslip in training with the Leinster squad. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Inevitable that Matt O’Connor would make changes after loss to Toulon

Ian Madigan has been dropped for Leinster’s must win Pro 12 game against Ulster at Ravenhill. Photograph: Inpho

Gordon D’Arcy returns to take the number 12 jersey as Matt O’Connor makes four changes

Leinster’s Rob Kearney if tackled by Matt Giteau of Toulon during the European Champions Cup semi-final at Stade Velodrome, Marseille. Photograph: Billy Stickland.

Playing Ulster in Belfast a big test of character, says Rob Kearney

Tommy Bowe is happy to be back with Ulster after a spell with the Ospreys. Photograph: Inpho

Winger says he was happy to return home after spell in Wales took heavy toll on body

Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage  collides with Cian Healy during the European Champions Cup  semi final  in Marseille. Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

Leinster flanker was left with sour taste in mouth after breakdown battle with Toulon

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor speaking to the press ahead of his side’s Pro12 clash with Ulster in Ravenhill. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster coach says he has been honest with IRFU on issue

Leinster prop Marty Moore looks set to miss the rest of the season as he is due to undergo a second surgery this season on a shoulder injury. Photo:    Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Prop set for second operation since October on injury picked up against Toulon

Munster’s first Irish captain Jim McCarthy has passed away at the age of 91. Photo: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Cork native won 28 caps and was a member of the 1948 Grand Slam-winning side

Ulster and Leinster face off in Ravenhill this weekend. Photograph: Inpho.

Matt O’Connor’s men need wins, plenty of tries and other results to go their way

Bryan Habana vies for a high ball with Fergus McFadden, who is out for the rest of the season with a thumb injury. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland winger has endured dismal season with thumb injury the latest setback

Ian Madigan’s fateful pass, which was intercepted for the Bryan Habana of Toulon’s extra-time try at the Stade Vélodrome. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Maverick skills of Ian Madigan get lost in one moment of calamity

Steffon Armitage was the difference really. At least three textbook turnovers killed Leinster momentum.

Gavin Cummiskey assesses the performances of both sets of players as Toulon reach yet another final

Frédéric Michalak in action for Toulon against Wasps in the quarter-final of the European Champions Cup. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Toulon outhalf has resurrected a career that has long mixed the flaky with flawless

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip directs play during their European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Bath at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster team to face Toulon at Stade Velodrome

Toulon’s Ali Williams dives to score a try against Wasps in their  European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final at Stade Flix Mayol, Toulon. Photograph: Inpho

Toulon team to face Leinster at Stade Velodrome

Sean O’Brien returns to the Leinster starting line-up for Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulon. Photograph: Inpho

Matt O’Connor goes with the same line-up as the quarter-final for Stade Velodrome clash

FAI chief executive John Delaney speaking at Croke Park, where Irish Sports Council Funding was announced for the FAI, IRFU and GAA for 2015. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

GAA, IRFU chiefs happy to answer questions on range of topics but not FAI counterpart

CEO for the IRFU speaks on camera at the Irish Sports Council Funding for FAI, IRFU and GAA for 2015 in Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Making live coverage exclusive to terrestrial television could potentially ruin Irish rugby

 Toulon’s Ali Williams in action against Wasps in their European Champions Cup quarter-final. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Lock says financial divide needs to be solved to avoid ruining international game

Leinster’s Fergus McFadden is set to return for the European Champions Cup semi final. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

‘We’ve been poor this year. We haven’t gelled together...It’s come down to 80 minutes’

Grenoble  flanker Rory Grice scores one of his side’s four tries against Toulon in their Top 14 35-24 defeat. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP Photo

Grenoble coach believes Leinster can cause an upset in their Champions Cup semi-final

DUBIan Madigan’s kicks were crucial but can Leinster win without Johnny Sexton. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Gopperth-Madigan-Te’o aren’t a poor trio, they just aren’t Sexton-D’Arcy-O’Driscoll

Mils Muliaina’s Connacht salary could have covered the cost of an astonishing 60 academy players. Photograph: Craig Thomas/Inpho

Fullback returns after injury-broken season for Challenge Cup quarter-final

Mike Ford:  Circuitous Rugby League career took him, by chance, to Ireland in January 2002. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland’s former defensive coach the guiding influence with Champions Cup contenders

All Black legend has only made 10 appearances for Pat Lam’s side so far this season

Jordi Murphy is set to start for Leinster against Bath in the Champions Cup. Photograph: Inpho

Matt O’Connor set to start Heaslip, O’Brien and Murphy in Aviva Stadium Champions Cup game

Charles Piutau, seen here in  action for Auckland Blues in March, will join Ulster on a two-year deal from this summer. Photograph:   Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images

Versatile All Blacks and Auckland Blues back looking forward to moving to Belfast

Peter Stringer will leave Bath at the end of the season. Photograph: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Former Ireland scrumhalf will be involved at Aviva, says Bath coach

Republic of Ireland midfielder  Wes Hoolahan holds off the challenge of Poland’s  Tomasz Jodlowiec during the Euro 2016 Group D qualifying  at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey marks Martin O’Neill’s men out of ten after their late Euro qualifier draw

Isaac Boss stretches to score his second try to secure a bonus point for Leinster in their Guinness Pro 12 clash against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS. Photograph:   James Crombie/Inpho

Down 27-7 at half-time Matt O’Connor’s side ended up taking three points at RDS

 Ulster’s Paddy Jackson returns to action against Cardiff after recovering from a cracked elbow suffered against Toulon. Photograph: Franck Pennant/INPHO/Presseye

Stuart Olding also returns and the pair could yet find themselves in the Ireland reckoning

Ian Madigan: will assume the place-kicing duties for Leinster against Glasgow. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Absence of several first-teamers ensures a tough assignment for Matt O’Connor’s side

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor: “There are a lot of games in the Pro 12 that are impacted on by the lack of availability of Test players.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach says the player management system needs to be restructured

Luke Fitzgerald takes on the Scotland defence at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Resurgent Leinster winger encapsulates belief now flowing through Ireland squad

Larissa Muldoon, Sophie Spence, Gillian Bourke and Ailis Egan celebrate at the final whistle in Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The strength of our women rugby players should be cherished

Ireland’s Jared Payne scores his side’s  third try during the Six  Nations Championship match at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho

Six Nations champions show there’s still little something up sleeve ahead of World Cup

Tom Tierney talking to the Irish backs during the captain’s run recently. The Grand Slam may have slipped out of reach but a second Six Nations in three years is within touching distance. Photograph: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Tom Tierney’s side have found a rhythm since that dark night against the French

Luke Fitzgerald: “I don’t think I can do what Simon [Zebo] does. I can do what I do.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Winger feels ‘in great position to kick on’ after unlucky international career so far

Ireland’s Sophie Spence. “You can only get better if you are playing at that level against international sides.” Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Secondrow believes extra international matches are needed to develop depth

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell and Seán O’Brien react to a decision by referee Wayne Barnes during the Six Nations defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland coach says Jack McGrath’s scrummaging against Wales was ‘very correct’

Luke Fitzgerald starts for Ireland against Scotland - his first international start since 2011. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster winger makes his first Ireland start since 2011 after battling string of injuries

Ireland captain and fullback Niamh Briggs clears her lines during the Women’s  Six Nations match against Wales  at St Helen’s  in Swansea. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Niamh Briggs’s team playing for both championship and Triple crown honours

Dan Trayers scores Cistercian’s second try in the semi-final against Newbridge. Trayers in the main man in the lineout for Roscrea. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Both Cistercian and Belvedere enter final of brilliant tournament with battle scars

Ireland wing Alison Miller: “It was always going to be a time when other players stepped up.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Events at Twickenham could have bearing as Irish and French battle for title

Ireland’s Paul O’Connell is tackled by Luke Charteris of Wales during their Six Nations match at the Millennium StadiCardiff, Wales. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Wales coaching staff got tactical drop on Joe Schmidt before match began

Peter O’Mahony wins a lineout during their SixNations Championship match at the  Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Photograph: Inpho

Jared Payne highlights combination of good Welsh defence and poor Irish decision making

Robin McBryde: “You’ve got to be confident going in against Ireland”

Robin McBryde, Shane Williams and Victor Costello try to predict where and how the Six Nations match at the Millennium Stadium wi(...)

Jackie Shiels return to midfield alongside Jenny Murphy which should improve the distribution out wide against Wales. Photograph: Inpho

Women’s Six Nations Preview: Wales v Ireland, Swansea RFC, 12pm – Live on 2FM

Ben Te’o is continuing his rugby union education with the Leinster A side. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

British and Irish Cup final place up for grabs in Worcester

Jamie Heaslip: recovered from the three cracked vertebrae caused by Pascal Pape’s knee. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland’s experienced number eight praises Warren Gatland’s coaching nous

Shane Williams dives past Ireland’s Keith Earls to score a Welsh try during the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final in New Zealand. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty.

Retired Wales international believes modern game has no place for small men

Jackie Shiels has been named in the Ireland starting line-up against Wales.

Centre returns in place of the injured Katie Fitzhenry for Sunday’s match in Wales

Roscrea’s Dan Trayers scores his side’s second try against Newbridge during yesterday’s semi-final at Donnybrook. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Murphy try secures a one-point win and a final date with Belvedere

Dublin’s Nicky Devereux Tyrone’s and Mattie Donnelly challenge for the ball during Friday night’s game at Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan

Dublin manager and Tyrone opposite number Mickey Harte share similar views despite differing styles

Brian O’Driscoll celebrates winning the 2009 Grand Slam with his father Frank. O’Driscoll was represented by his father for much of his career and Frank O’Driscoll has given some advice to Tom Henshaw. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Parents as representatives in nothing new in rugby as agents remain strictly regulated

Iain Henderson: returned to the Ireland squad as a replacement against England following his recuperation from a hip injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Luke Marshall and Roger Wilson cited after Ulster’s defeat of Scarlets on Friday

Newbride’s Jake Howlett is tackled by Tim Foley of Cistercian College Roscrea during the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final at Donnybrook. Photograph:    Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Keith Kavanagh’s second-half try squares things up in senior semi-final

Jack Clarke of Belvedere College celebrates at the end of the game. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

Brave Clongowes comeback falls just short in an enthralling semi-final

Ireland’s Robbie Hensaw: the try scorer and man of the match in Sunday’s Six Nations match with England will see out his contract with Connacht. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Leinster, Munster and several European clubs expected to want to sign Ireland centre

Ireland’s women’s rugby team: Indications from within World Rugby appear to make Ireland favourites to host the 2017 World Cup ahead of England and South Africa. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

IRFU proposes that pool matches be played in UCD with knockout stages in Belfast

 Simon Zebo competes for a high ball with George Ford during Sunday’s action at the Aviva Stadium:  Ireland kicked the ball 44 times compared with England’s 27.  Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster admits he knew an aerial bombardment was coming from Ireland

Ireland’s Shane Horgan scores a try against England at Croke Park  following a crossfield kick by  Ronan O’Gara. Photo: Alan Betson

The atmosphere in Dublin will be special as we once again welcome ‘the old enemy’

Ireland’s Alison Miller and Jenny Murphy celebrate the Women’s Six Nations Championship victory over England at   Ashbourne RFC. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Penalty after 76 minutes sees off England in Ashbourne

Jordi Murphy comes in to replace Jamie Heaslip for Sunday’s Six Nations fixture against England. Photograph: INPHO

Joe Schmidt keeps Cian Healy on the bench while Eoin Reddan comes in for Isaac Boss

Ireland’s Rory Best performs a choke tackle on France’s Rory Kockott during the recent Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Wales assistant coach says increasing resort to the tackle is a blight on the game

Ireland flanker Paula Fitzpatrick has been in outstanding form in the Six Nations campaign. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tom Tierney’s side face an England side that blew Ireland away in Paris semi-final

 Dylan Hartley: One of the few sportsmen who instil fear with a look. Photograph: Getty Images

Northampton captain to put mistakes behind him as Lancaster’s England side seek title

Alex Goode is poised to start at fullback should Mike Brown fails to prove his fitness. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes and Geoff Parling released to clubs ahead of Ireland clash

Stuart Lancaster’s England squad training at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot, Surrey, ahead of Sunday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster’s powerful side aiming for fifth win in row over Ireland

Wales’ George North leaves the field to be assessed after a head injury during the Six Nations match against England at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Clubs, doctors and physios, as well as rugby’s official bodies, are in firing line on concussion

Clongowes Wood captain John Molony seemed to suffer a head injury during Clongowes’ victory over St Michael’s College in the Leinster schools cup quarter-final.  Photograph: Colm O’Neill/INPHO

Peter Robinson has questioned why captain John Molony was allowed to play on

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton  is given treatment for a cut to his eye after a clash of heads with France’s Mathieu Bastareaud during the Six Nations at Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Michael Steele/Getty Images

Recent high-profile cases mean rugby can no longer ignore the elephant in the room

The Ireland and French teams are in the dark after a floodlight generator problem at the Women’s Six Nations Championship match at Milltown House, Ashbourne RFC, Co Meath. Photograph: Inpho

Despite defending their spiritual home in Ashbourne, the side deserve a better venue

Richardt Strauss was one of three Leinster players forced off with a head injury during Sunday’s Pro 12 loss to Newport Gwent Dragons. (Photograph: INPHO/Colm O’Neill)

Leinster coach watched as three of his charges forced off with head injuries during Dragons loss

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