Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan celebrates scoring the equalising point with the last puck of the game. Photo: Donall Farme/Inpho

Sublime moments of skill on show as teams stay level right to the nerve-wracking end

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald: “That is what hurling is all about. You want a man’s game; you want it toe to toe.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Clare boss says it would have been unfair if either side had lost thrilling league decider

Liverpool fans are pulled to safety on to the upper tier to escape the crush on the terrace below. Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

City is unique in its tenacity, resilience and sense of solidarity to see campaign through

Tony Kelly: “The biggest thing was that we weren’t doing ourselves justice on the field as a group.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Waterford stand in the way of the Banner County’s first league title success in 38 years

Davy Fitzgerald: “It will be hard enough to get scores because of the way they are in that middle third. It will be tough.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Clare boss a a big admirer of the Déise’s transformation under Derek McGrath’s

Paul Flynn celebrates after taking advantage of hesitation in the Kerry defence to score Dublin’s first goal in the Allianz Football League Division One Final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Jim Gavin’s side appear to be getting better as they take Kingdom apart at Croke Park

Colm Cooper: “He has an innate unorthodoxy”, said Paul Galvin of his former team-mate. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Whether creating scores or taking them, Kerry have their ace in the pack back

 Conor McGregor trades blows  with Nate Diaz during their UFC 196 welterweight mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas. Photograph: Eric Jamison/AP Photo

MMA’s coverage in mainstream media would disappear without magnetic Dublin fighter

Philly McMahon and Colm Cooper look set to renew acquaintances at Croke Park in Sunday’s Allianz League Division One final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Impressive league run suggests Kingdom want to lay down a marker for the year

Waterford manager Derek McGrath during the Allianz League semi-final clash with Limerick. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Much had been said about a supposed defensive style of play from Waterford

Patrick Curran scored for Waterford in their win over Limerick in Thurles. Photograph: Inpho

The defending league champions were ruthless and efficient in Thurles

 Kobe Bryant  during the post-game news conference after scoring 60 points in the final game of his NBA career. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

The 20-year NBA veteran turned what had been a fond and, by the standards of Tinseltown, heartfelt celebration into something mor(...)

Clare’s Davy Fitzgerald on the line with selector Donal Óg Cusack. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Allianz Hurling League semi-final could reach championship temperature

Derek McGrath’s Waterford scored just one goal in the league this year. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho.

Holders Waterford continue to make strides and look well placed to advance

 Ernie Els did not have a good day with the putter in the first round at the 2016 Masters in Augusta. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

South African’s troubles brought to mind greatest ever meltdown at Masters

Tony Boyle: “Had we won that game and maybe gone on to win the league, we may not have won the All-Ireland.”

Vinny Murphy inspired a comeback in April but Donegal won the big one in September

The Dublin team stand for the national anthem before playing Roscommon in Carrick-on-Shannon. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Dublin manager not surprised by hard graft put in by his new-look defence in Leitrim

Dublin’s Tomas Brady and Neil Collins of Roscommon clash during their Allianz League match. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

It’s seven from seven for Jim Gavin’s men after tough contest in Carrick-on-Shannon

Podge Collins suffered a long-term Achilles injury which kept him out of last year’s championship. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Dual player has returned from injury to assist rising tide of his county’s hurling and football fortunes

Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim waves to the crowd after cutting down the net after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game of the midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at the United Center. Photograph: Dennis Wierzbicki/Usa Today Sports

Quaint notion of student-athlete in a billion-dollar industry is shameful

Corofin Dramatic Society’s production of ‘A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg’, by Peter Nichols. Photograph: John Kelly

Ireland’s amateur drama season is an eccentric, ambitious concept, with 54 productions touring 37 festivals. And the stories are a(...)

Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be just one of the stars fans want to see at the Euopean Championships in France. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty

Football is for the people, keeping them away would represent a victory for terrorists

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill on the sidelines during the friendly international against switzerland. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Some promising debuts were the highlight of a solid performance

The last game Colm McFadden played for Donegal was against Mayo in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo at Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

How Donegal boss Rory Gallagher will use experienced forward remains to be seen

Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan and Stephen McDonnell of Cork struggle for possession. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Familiarity may not breed contempt for old foes, but eyes turn towards championship

Tipperary’s John McGrath and Killian Burke of Cork get involved in a scuffle during their Allianz League encounter. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

It was a stroll for the home side in Thurles who now welcome Clare in the quarter-finals

Roscommon manager Fergal O’Donnell is hugged by Ciarán Murtagh after the county’s impressive league win over Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium last month. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

County’s league form has been a revelation but it is championship success that will matter most

England head coach  Eddie Jones doesn’t care what you think about Dylan Hartley.  Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

England lacked arrogance during dismal World Cup campaign - now they have it back

Castlebar Mitchels players celebrate their Mayo final win over Breaffy with joint manager Declan O’Reilly. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Mayo kingpins focused on proving their worth by claiming the All-Ireland club title

Roscommon joint-managers Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Kevin McStay happy to admit that his side look every inch a Division One outfit

Roscommon’s Cathal Cregg celebrates scoring a goal. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Kevin McStay delighted as his team achieve league target of survival in Letterkenny

He was torn between his delight at playing on such a superb team with the more basic fact of missing the uncomplicatedness of life at joyously unfashionable Blackburn.

Few children have the free time to give themselves to their sport as Damien Duff did

The Cork hurlers have yet to register a win in this season’s league campaign with old foes Kilkenny determined to underline the gap between the counties. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho

Kieran Kingston’s men suffering as they seek balance between tradition and transition

James Horan: “Whatever level you are at, if you want to learn there is something in it for you.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Speakers from a range of sports to attend the event in Mayo

Donegal’s Ódhran MacNiallais normally plays midfield but likes to play in the forwards. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Gweedore man prefers to play further up the field as he proved against Mayo

Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Shane Nally of Mayo go in pursuit of a loose ball. Photograph: Donna McBride/Inpho

Rory Gallagher pleased with hard working first half performance to stay in touch

Donegal’s Stephen McBrearty in the All-Ireland minor final in 2014 against Kerry. The assimilation of younger players like McBrearty into the Donegal senior team has caught the eye. Photograph: INPHO

Recent new-look Donegal teams could look to a bench loaded with senior players

The Irish Times sports journalist Carl O’Malley passed away this time last year, aged 36.

Passing of The Irish Times sports journalist has left a hole in hearts and minds

Natalya Coyle: “Everyone expects and is convinced that I have already qualified. ‘When are you going to Rio? Will you win a medal?’ But it’s fine. I know I am giving this my all.” Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Veteran of London Olympics focused on renewing her pentathlon dream in Rio

Green Party candidate Fergal Smith signs a piece of one of his broken surfboards for Finn Curran (7) while canvassing in Ennis, Co Clare. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Community gardener and political outsider just wants to get his ecological message out

Moment of anguish:  Louis van Gaal and  Ryan Giggs look on as Manchester United go down to defeat against  Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday in Herning, Denmark. Photograph:  Paul Childs Livepic/Reuters

Defeat by Midtjylland has left Manchester United manager in a lonely place

Tipperary manager Michael Ryan. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Sunday’s clash againsts offers the chance to correct the sense that Tipp are nearly men

Cork’s Damien Cahalane: “ If you lost the first game, you do want to win the next one and I suppose we are just looking forward to it.” Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Defender’s mind turns to clash with holders following Rebels’ opening loss to Galway

 Niall Burke of Galway impressed in the win over Cork. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho

Michael Donoghue began his managerial reign with high-scoring win at Pearse Stadium

 Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri’s class off the field matches the brilliance of his side on it

“I love hurling. But there are more important things in life. Your family and your health. Hurling is . . . it is fun and enjoyment and it gets you excited. I think we all need something. It doesn’t have to be hurling.” Photograph: Inpho

Clare manager wears his heart is on his sleeve. He has just learned to live with the caricatures

Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony, joined by former Galway footballer Seán Óg Dr Paor and former Galway hurler Pat Malone (r), during their call to former Clare hurler Frank Lohan and his son Gus at their home in Oranmore, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Football hero and Fine Gael TD is back in the county due to redrawn constituencies

Jim Gavin: “When I’m asked by other counties I encourage them to get on to Croke Park: make their business case for funding for people.”  Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

Manager urges other counties to emulate Dublin’s successful format

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea is tackled by Dublin’s Emmet Ó Conghaile at MacHale Park. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

Champions produce a huge effort to keep a fiercely determined Mayo outfit at bay

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly (l) and Colm Boyle of Mayo Photograph: ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

Mayo force Dublin to show their quality in bruising test on wet, dark night in the west

Jonathan Sexton carries a heavy burden for Ireland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Paul O’Connell’s retirement breaks final link to days when nation fell in love with game

Dublin defender Philly McMahon celebrates scoring Dublin second goal in the All-Ireland semi-final replay against Mayo last summer. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Conceding goals has hurt westerners and things may get worse before they get better

Conor McManus of Monaghan celebrates scoring a goal late on in Kiltoom. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

Malachy O’Rourke: ‘We’d a number of experienced players out there, we didn’t panic’

In the league, St Tiernach’s Park in Clones  is different. The house is open . . . the stewards are so chilled that they all but affect a Jamaican patois in their welcome. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye

It may not be the championship but it has a distinctive charm all of its own

Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mayo’s managerial purge was painful but never personal for the star forward

Eamon Branningan shoots for Galway in their Connacht league final wni over Roscommon. Photograph: Inpho

Kevin Walsh’s side seal Connacht league title in an entertaining clash in Tuam

There is now the beginning of a movement to keep players in the game purely because they enjoy the game. Photograph: Eric Luke

The GAA revealed that 58% of all players are ‘lost’ to the games between 12 and 21

 Andriú Mac Lochlainn finished with Kildare in 2012 at the age of 29. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Players are finding it harder to stay playing as injury, burn-out and life get in the way

Fiona Doyle: “If everything falls into place, there is no reason I shouldn’t get into the final. And then it about whoever can put all that work – a lifetime of practice – down into this race. Then, it is anybody’s game.”

Doyle’s thousands of hours in the pool have been dedicated to the 60-something seconds she will race in Rio

IAAF president Sebastian Coe. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

IAAF chief might have got job he wanted but he’s lost all prestige and popularity

St Brigid’s celebrate after their All-Ireland club victory. The club’s success has underpinned Roscommon’s recent strength at minor and U-21 level . Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Huge public anxiety over a potential proposal which would affect clubs such as St Brigid’s and Clann na nGael

Real Madrid’s new French coach Zinedine Zidane. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Real Madrid hoping he can superimpose his brilliance on bunch of misfiring superstars

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath: Keen to produce a winning mentality. Photograph: Inpho

Fermanagh coach hoping to boost team’s confidence as they confront old enemy

Shane Long scores for Ireland against Germany in their Euro 2016 qualifier match at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

2015 saw many brave bids for immortality, but just as many in danger of being forgotten

Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw  is walking proof of everything that is good and promising about rugby in the west. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland centre would be big attraction at Leinster but he is an icon in west

Tiger Woods radically changed the profile of golf and transformed the earning power of the field. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Rory McIlroy’s tribute an acknowledgement that Woods will always be a great

Cora Staunton won her 10th All Star in November. Her 2-10 against Tyrone was the undoubted highlight of another excellent season. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo great is adamant women’s game deserves more from GAA

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on court during game two of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2008 NBA playoffs. Photograph: Getty Images

The Lakers star announces his intention to retire owing basketball nothing

Young Cuala supporters cheer the camogie team on. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin hurling club built from ground up by passion of a small minority in community

Dublin and Galway in action in  Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph: CJ Gunther/EPA

GAA obsession with showcasing its games to international audience is long-standing one

Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova: the marathon runner ran race after race untroubled by the fear of suspension despite showing blood values which were off the charts. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA

Damning Wada report on systemic doping regime unlikey to have the desired effect

The inclusion of James McClean was the fairytale of the Giovanni Trapattoni’s selection for the 2012 tournament. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland team has changed dramatically since Italian led side to Euro 2012 in Poland

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill celebrates after the match. Photo: Lee Smith / Reuters

Qualification for Euro 2016 a fitting reward for Martin O’Neill and his spirited squad

Ireland’s Ciaran Clark in action against  Bosnia’s Milan Djuric in Zenica on Friday night. Photograph:  Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Ireland’s back four epitomise fighting spirit with which the team plays

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in Melbourne ahead of her title fight against Holly Holm. Photograph: Paul Crock/Getty Images

UFC champion has become global megastar with one exception – she speaks her mind

Brian McIver: “We have never won an Ulster club title so we can’t put that pressure on ourselves.” Photograph: Andrew Paton/Presseye/InphoPaton

Brian McIver’s side face Armagh stalwarts in an intriguing Ulster club semi-final

Richard Keogh: “We have a lot of experience in big games and have to use that.” Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Determined Republic of Ireland central defender fully focused on playoff challenge

Bosnia & Herzegovina striker Edin Dzeko during the press conference ahead of the Euro 2016 play-off, first leg against the Republic of Ireland in Zenica. Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Livepic

Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Mehmed Bazdarevic says his side are not afraid of Ireland

Sam Burgess: returning to South Sydney Rabbitohs on lucrative contract. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Player’s decision to leave union and England for league and Australia is understandable

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham. Nobody has come closer to bringing the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to the county for the first time since the late 1980s. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dispute over Anthony Cunningham’s position casts shadow over novel county final

The former Tyrone man Mattie McGleenan has been the key to Scotstown’s rise. Photo: Inpho

Dedicated Tyrone man gives Monaghan champions their winning ambition

Billy Walsh at Dublin Airport en route to his new job as coach of the USA women’s team  in Colorado Springs.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Whoever is to blame, the bottom line is that America’s gain is Ireland’s sad loss

Paul O’Connell hasn’t made a tragedy out of The End or declared himself devastated. Instead, he lightened the mood by posting a daffy picture from hospital and will be in among the team this weekend, offering advice and probably a final rallying cry. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland legend’s sustained excellence earned him deep respect in both hemispheres

The grounded Leo McLoone of Naomh Conaill is crowded by St Eunan’s players during the 2012 Donegal football final in Ballybofey. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho.

Regan looks to make amends as Glenties rekindle contest with reigning champions

Manager Martin O’Neill has vowed that the Republic of Ireland will be ready for whatever is thrown at them as they prepare for the Euro 2016 play-offs. Photograph: Tony Marshall/PA Wire.

Ireland manager’s belief team has improved will be fully vindicated by play-off victory

Poland’s Gregorz Krychowiak scores their first goal. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

John O’Shea and Jonathan Walters to miss first game of play-offs after Poland clash

Shane Long during training in Warsaw Photograph: Adam Holt/Reuters

With Thursday’s goal still echoing, Shane Long and Ireland turn to Sunday’s showdown

Polish head coach Adam Nawalka (L) and striker Robert Lewandowski (R)  Photograph: Bartlomiej Zborowski/EPA

Poland’s coach predicts striker will prove he is world’s best number nine on Sunday

Martin O’Neill masterminded one of the most famous wins in Irish sporting history against Germany on Thursday night - but now attention turns to Poland. Photograph: Inpho

In a single campaign Hoolahan has gone from luxury player to beating heart of side

Joachim Löw:    “Overall I think it was one of the most unnecessary defeats we have had to accept in recent years.” Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

German coach rues missed chances as Martin O’Neill’s side pounce on meagre pickings

John Leonard: “I don’t want this book to read as a celebration of drugs. The reality is I lost my mind a lot of times. I was very close to losing friends and losing sanity.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The former understudy to Dublin’s Stephen Cluxton was an insatiable pills-and-thrills chaser

Mayo joint-managers Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes  stepped down on Friday night after a meeting of the Mayo county board executive. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

After the resignation of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly who is out there that can make the tiny difference that will change the gala(...)

Philly McMahon held the best forward of his generation, Kerry’s Colm Cooper, scoreless in the All-Ireland football final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Dublin defender is brilliant player whose talents have been overshadowed by controversy

 Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan celebrates with the Sam Maguire trophy: “It might seem like times are good now but you have to make the most of the opportunities.” Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Key defender overcame a hamstring strain to play a crucial role in Dublin’s All-Ireland win

Dublin’s  Philly McMahon and Kerry’s Colm Cooper.  Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

Michael Darragh MacAuley said Dublin worked hard to avoid repeat of last year’s defeat

Kerry substitute Kieran Donaghy battles in the Dublin square for a high ball with Rory O’Carroll and Johnny Cooper in the All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side prove greatness as they beat Kerry to win third All-Ireland in five years

Dublin Manager Jim Gavin celebrates with Cian O’Sullivan after the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dublin manager explained: ‘He was honest to say he’s good to go and we trusted him’

Dublin’s Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn celebrate with the Sam Maguire trophy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

This Dublin generation's achievements compare with the very best of them

Dublin have developed a more defensive system this season but as they struggled in the All-Ireland semi-final replay, James McCarthy  attacked the Mayo rearguard with gusto. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Kerry clash may finally reveal which is real team lurking inside the Leinster champions

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