Wexford manager Liam Dunne celebrates at the final whistle of their round 2 qualifier win over Cork. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The rise of a new generation is sparking enthusiasm but they still have a way to go

Tyrone’s Mickey Harte celebrates with his grandson Michael after the Ulster final victory over Donegal. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Veteran Red Hand boss pleased with the grit they showed in an exciting win over Donegal

Tyrone’s Niall Sludden tackles Donegal’s Eoin McHugh during his side’s Ulster final victory. Photograph: Inpho/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Stunning late points from Peter Harte and Ciaran McGeevy win an epic provincial final

Tyrone’s Aidan McCory is tackled by Frank McGylnn and David Walsh of Donegal during the Ulster SFC semi-final at Clones in 2012. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

No matter what the result, things will have changed between these rivals by the end of the day

Galway Manager Kevin Walsh issues instruction during the Connacht Senior football championship final at  Pearse Stadium, Galway. Photograph: Inpho

Galway coach Kevin Walsh acknowledged Galway set up exceptionally defensively at times; McStay eager for replay to be at MacHale(...)

Galway’s Paul Conroy and Thomas Flynn in action against   Niall Daly and Cathal Compton of Roscommon during the  Connacht SFC Final at Pearse Stadium in Salthill. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Both sides caught up - between wanting to win and their fear of losing Connacht final

Dimitri Payet’s stunning strike against Romania lit the blue touch paper at Euro 2016. Photograph: Getty

Dimitri Payet’s stunning strike sparked the tournament into life after a tentative start

Serena Williams: a superstar athlete of exceptional moral courage. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

She has fought her way through prejudice to win 21 Grand Slam titles, and counting

Thomas Flynn celebrates with Damien Comer after scoring Galway’s winning goal against Mayo in the Connacht championship semi-final at McHale Park last month. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho.

Having ended Mayo’s recent dominance in the province, the Tribesmen still have something to prove

 Striker Harry Kane leaves the England team hotel in Chantilly, France, after England’s exit from Euro 2016.  Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

The day is gone when Ireland can expect a rich harvest from the English academies

France coach Didier Deschamps “Ireland were quite deep so we wanted to get Griezmann closer to Giroud and get some speed with Coman out wide and use the width better. But above all to get presence up front because the four attacking players with Dimitri, Antoine, Kinglsey and Giroud created presence up front and we created a lot of chances.” Photo: Getty Images

‘This team brings emotion to the crowd and makes people fall in love with them’

Republic of Ireland centre half Richard Keogh heads clear while challenging Italy’s   Simone Zaza during the Group E game in Lille. Photograph: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph has been informing team-mates of West Ham team-mate’s ability

France’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris during training ahead of their clash with Ireland in Euro 2016 second round. Photo: Getty Images

The French goalkeeper has full confidence in his back-line despite recent criticism

This team may not be quite as gifted as the Ireland teams of 1990 and 1994. But they are, clearly, fiercely close and  have a savage work ethic. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Current generation have left us a high akin to Stuttgart, Genoa and the Giants Stadium

Republic of Ireland captain Séamus McCarthy commends team-mate James McCarthy during the victory over Italy at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille on Wednesday. photograph: Laurent Dubrule/EPA

Proud Donegal man took extra responsibilty of captaincy in his stride

Roy Keane: “As Jack said years ago, ‘put ‘em under pressure’. I’m sure there’s a song about that, you know.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho er

Assistant manager galvanises side to take care of unfinished business against hosts

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill celebrates as the final whistle blowsin Lille on Wednesday. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

Ireland manager grins as he recalls moments of magic from Wednesday’s defeat of Italy

Robbie Brady celebrates after scoring the winner in Lille. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Psychic link made to USA 94 as Italy are pushed aside to put Ireland in dreamland

Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Ward training in Lille. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ireland defender says team still believe that they can qualify from group

Antonio Conte: “It is not a useless game by any means. It is a game we want to win. Winning breeds confidence. This is not a game to decided on starters and substitutes, which is a feeling I am picking up on and don’t like at all. I am going to try and pick a balanced side. Otherwise we could have problems.”

Italy manager Antonio Conte stresses his team are determined to record a third victory

Wes Hoolahan battles with Belgium’s Mousa Dembele on a day when the Norwich playmaker’s influence was below its normal standard. Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

Dropping midfielder from a side lacking creativity would be controversial move

Lone striker Shane Long had the  most thankless role for Ireland and was battered for his trouble by Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

First victory in European Championships since 1988 has never been more urgent

Republic of Ireland midfielder  Jeff Hendrick at the final whistle of the Group E game against Belgium  at Stade Matmut Atlantique  in Bordeaux. Photograph: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

Belgium finally find their strut on chastening day for Ireland players and supporters

Polish fans  at Stade de France for their side’s match against Germany. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Versailles life doesn’t reach full throttle until 5pm – and by nine they are winding down

 Ireland’s players warm up before today’s training session in Bordeaux. Photo: EPA

Ireland manager says it wouldn’t surprise him if Belgium won the tournament

French President Francois Hollande at the Albania game. He  could certainly do with a good news story right now. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

Football festival ongoing against a backdrop of terrorism concerns, flooding and strikes

Ciaran Clark: “Obviously Hazard, Lukaku, Benteke . . . they have top class players. But we have quality players ourselves.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Aston Villa defender consigns his unlucky own goal against Sweden to history

Poland forward Arkadiusz Milik puts the ball wide of the goal during the Euro 2016 Group C clash against Germany at Stade de France in Paris. Photograph:   Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Stade de France stalemate with Poland shows that Joachim Löw’s side are still to click

English fans clash with police in Lille, France. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images.

Shows of strength by Russian and English fans an ongoing occurrence in France

Sweden manager Erik Hamren applauds the team’s supporters at the end of the Euro 2016 group E  match against the Republic of Ireland at the Stade de France. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden manager says his side disappointed by ‘a bad result’

Republic of Ireland’s Wes Hoolahan celebrates with Robbie Brady after scoring the opening goal at the Stade de France. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Men in green discover once more that nothing comes easy in Paris

Republic of Ireland players get a run out at the Stade de France on Sunday. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFFP/Getty Images

Republic of Ireland manager calls on players to show no fear against Zlatan and co

 Zlatan Ibrahimovic controls a ball during a Sweden training session at the Stade de France in Paris ahead of the game against the Republic of Ireland on Monday. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

The Swedish captain is typically confident in advance of his team’s opener against Ireland

Shane Duffy’s star has continued to rise since his inclusion in the Ireland squad. Photograph: PA

Stephen Quinn aware of the importance of set-pieces in Stade de France showdown

Roy Keane at the Republic of Ireland open training session at Stade de Montbauron, in Versailles, France. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Versaille youngsters greet players as if they were an all-time World XI in their prime

Dimitri Payet’s thunderbolt gave France an emotional victory over Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016. Photograph: Getty

Euro 2016 starts with an emotional bang as Didier Deschamps’ men clear first hurdle

 Shane Long scores against Germany during qualifying. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mission of atonement begins in Paris after tournament to forget four years ago

Goalkeeper Shay Given in action during Ireland’s training session in Versailles. Photo: Filip Singer/EPA

Veteran Stoke goalkeeper says he is not in France to ‘make up the numbers’

Muhammad Ali in his London hotel room, May 1963. Photograph: Hulton Archive

In modern culture, few figures have been as popular and for as long as the late boxer

Adrian Doherty (extreme right, front row) lines out for Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup semi-final in 1990. Photograph: Getty Images

Manchester United starlet was bound stardom for before injury derailed his career

The Dublin panel, led by Bryan Cullen, come off the field in Pearse Park 10 years ago after warming-up for their match against Longford. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

There was All-Ireland-like atmosphere final when city boys went to Longford 10 years ago

Davy Fitzgerald is one of the few managers happy to acknowledge  the emotional pull of being involved with a team. Photographs: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Clare manager admits he didn’t enjoy 2013 victory enough – but has learned his lesson

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald celebrates  the league final replay win. “There were no scores between ourselves and Waterford got easily.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Clare boss says space will once again be at a premium when Munster rivals lock horns

Connacht captain John Muldoon lifts the Guinness Pro12 Trophy. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Connacht have become beating heart of west – and an inspiration to their GAA brethren

Bruce Springsteen performing at Croke Park with E Street band members Nils Lofgren (left) and ‘Little Stephen’ Van Zandt on Friday night. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Boss can’t keep Pat Lam’s army from seeking their own promised land

Shane Long scores the Republic of Ireland’s  goal during the friendly international at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

The battle continues to claim the last few tickets on the plane to France

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill on the sideline during the international friendly against the Netherlands at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Republic of Ireland manager is adamant his team can compete against the bigger nations

Cork’s Patrick Horgan will play a key part in their assault on Tipperary. Photo: Inpho

The Rebels have played down their chances but still pose a significant threat

Dublin manager Ger Cunningham will hope to lead his side past Wexford at Croke Park. Photo: Inpho

Both Dublin and Wexford are desperate to disprove theory of two-horse Leinster race

Tony Scullion: “Eighteen years and counting since Derry won an Ulster title . . . it is not good enough. A proud county like Derry. It should not be happening.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Stalwart keen for county to recapture the winning habit that marked great side of old

Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Pro12 semi-final against Glasgow will present the Sportsground and province at their best

Fermanagh’s Sean Quigley is tackled by Antrim’s Ricky Johnston in yesterday’s GAA Ulster senior football championship first round clash in Brewster Park, Enniskillen. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye

Fermanagh press on in rare sunshine while Laois earn joust with All-Ireland champions

Fermanagh’s Cameron McBride in action against Antrim on Sunday. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

Pete McGrath’s team comfortably superior but struggled to replicate first half intensity

 Stephen Curry in action for Golden State Warriors. Photograph: EPA

Golden State Warriors star can surpass Johnson and Jordan – but he must win titles

Ousting of manager Anthony Cunningham, followed by relegation from Division 1A, ensures the pressure is now very much on

Dublin continue to light up game but the glare is not for their manager as his methodical eye stays fixed on the ultimate goal

Offaly manager Michael Bond celebrates the 1998 All-Ireland hurling final victory over Kilkenny. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

County have fallen a long way since the heady glory-filled days of the 1980s and 1990s

Colin Ryan of Clare: “All you want to do is win. . . I’m sure the Waterford fans would love it if they won an All-Ireland no matter what way they are playing.” Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Clare star says Déise present a different tactical challenge compared to their rivals

Waterford selector Dan Shanahan during his side’s draw with Clare in the Allianz League final. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

“The players don’t ask for much – whatever it is at the end of the year, it’s something they deserve”

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

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