Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku both scored twice as Belgium thrashed Tunisia 5-2 in Moscow. Photograh: Yuri Cortez/AFP

Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both score twice in five-star rout of Tunisia in Moscow

 Argentina’s  Lionel Messi waits to kick off after Croatia scored their opening goal during the  World Cup Group D clash at  at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.  in Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, 2018. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty

Victory over Nigeria now could see Sampaoli’s disjointed side grasp a lifeline

Russians, celebrating here after their win over Egypt, have been swept up in the carnival atmosphere of this World Cup. 
 Photograph: Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

This World Cup has shown that it’s possible to separate Putin’s Russia from the people living in it

Croatia tear Argentina to pieces and leave them facing early group stage exit

  Niznhy Novgorod’s transformation in three decades has been disconcertingly swift. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Most fans have been sideswiped by how their prejudices about Russia have been stripped away

Argentina’s Lionel Messi taking part in a training session at the team’s  camp near Moscow. Photograph: Getty Images

Sampaoli hopes to exploit magnetism of his superstar in crunch clash with Croatia

 Russian soldiers guard the Fan Fest area in Nizhny Novgorod. There was no sense of the city coming to a standstill. Photograph: EPA

In Nizhny Novgorod there was no sense this was Russia’s ‘a nation holds its breath’ moment

Mexico’s defender Edson Alvarez celebrates after the final whistle of the Group F football match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico manager says they ‘played for the love of winning, not fear of losing’

Hirving Lozano scores Mexico’s  goal in the World Cup Group F game against Germany at the  Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal shows up poor Germany defending in Moscow

 Hannes Halldorsson of Iceland saves  Lionel Messi’s penalty during the 1-1 draw in Moscow.  Photograph: EPA

Lionel Messi misses penalty as Iceland eke out famous draw in Moscow

Soccer fans gather near Red Square in Moscow. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

The city is too big, too haughty, too fast to be knocked out of synch by a mere World Cup

  Iceland’s Aron Gunnarsson during training on Friday. Photograph: EPA

Saturday’s match against Argentina the most important in Iceland’s history

  Yuri Gazinskiy  celebrates scoring Russia’s opening goal with team-mates in the World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Photograph: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin shares his congratulations after five-star opening night performance

Argentina fans in high spirits  outside the Kremlin in Moscow in advance of the start of the  2018 World Cup. Photograph: Vasil Maximov/AFP/Getty

Doubts and concerns about the host nation are being consigned to the periphery

Laois’ John O’Loughlin under pressure from the Carlow defence during the Leinster SFC semi-final  at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Laois made to work hard for openings against organised and physical Carlow side

The teams of Iran and US before the 1998 World Cup soccer match. Photograph: Jerome Prevost/Getty Images

The 1998 defeat of the US in France still holds a special place in Iran’s football folklore

To the hurling crowd, the game has mystifyingly failed to become the most popular – indeed, the only – game in the world. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Is life a joyride or a slog? Depends if you’re the Hurling Crowd or the Football Crowd

Graham Geraghty celebrates Meath’s win over Tyrone in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final in 2007. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Ulster men will be favourites but there’s a bit of quiet confidence in the Royal county

 LeBron James: scored 51 points in an extraordinary display against the Golden State Warriors but Cleveland still lost in overtime in game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Photograph: Monica Davey/EPA

World’s best basketball player is operating at a supreme level for the sake of the Cavaliers

James O’Donoghue: enthused about a return to full fitness for Kerry by stating: “I feel like I’m 22 again”.  But at 28 he is now one of the experienced members of  a young Kerry squad. Photograph:  Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Kerry and Monaghan also favourites to book their place in provincial deciders

Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher and selector Ryan McMenamin on the sideline during the Ulster Championship win over Armagh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ex-Donegal manager has already proved a success in his first season at the helm

Galway’s Cathal Mannion, Conor Whelan and Brian Concannon around James Maher of Kilkenny during  the Leinster hurling championship match at Pearse Stadium, Galway. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Galway manager says it is a testament to Kilkenny the way they restricted his team’s scoring

Galway’s Cathal Mannion, Conor Whelan and Brian Concannon in action against  James Maher of Kilkenny.   Photograph: Oisín Keniry

Leinster hurling arrives on the Atlantic promenade as champions bare their teeth

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns will hope his team can book their place in the Munster final this weekend. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

All team news ahead of weekend’s matches in all four provincial championships

James Milner: he  seems like a throwback in style and physique to a disappeared type of footballer

Versatility Liverpool player is one of those players who seems to have been around forever

Galway’s Conor Whelan battles with Kilkenny’s Pádraig Walsh at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

For the first time in Cody’s reign, Cats seeking to make a statement against Galway

Conor Lehane scores Cork’s first goal with a delicate flick. Photograph: Inpho

‘Clare is over. It is ten past six. Forget about it. We now have to go to Thurles’

When a friend acts the goat or behaves contrarily, he will be told, in outright affection that he is a “fierce bollocks altogether”.

He might've over-stepped the mark describing his colleague as “out and out” bollocks

 Oliver McVeigh holding the Sam Maguire with Peter Canavan in the changing rooms at Croke Park after Tyrone’s  first All-Ireland win in 2003. Photograph: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Oliver McVeigh still searching for truth about his brother 43 years after he ‘disappeared’

Final whistle: Galway’s Eoghan Kerin celebrates his side’s victory over Mayo. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

All-Ireland football championship has had its first heavyweight bout of the summer

Johnny Heaney of Galway celebrates scoring a goal to beat Mayo. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Galway made it three Connacht championship wins in a row against rivals Mayo

. . . and that’s when true colours come out and the All-Ireland championship permits otherwise mild and reserved Irish men and women to sometimes lose themselves, in those stands and on those terraces, for that hour when the game is on . . . Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Sideline Cut: less of a sports tournament than a four-month-long state of mind

Galway’s Johnny Heaney celebrates scoring a goal in the Senior Football Championship qualifier against Donegal at Markievicz Park, Co Sligo. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Now in his fourth campaign, player has become senior figure in team full of potential

Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson

Keith Duggan’s guide to the challenge from the north

Galway’s Damien Comer

Keith Duggan’s guide to the challenge from the west as Roscommon defend their crown

Dublin’s Paul Mannion  with the Sam Maguire after the defeat of Mayo in the 2017 All-Ireland final in Croke Park. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

So which county can wrestle the coveted Sam Maguire from the hands of the Dubs?

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly is not available for selection for the upcoming 2018 GAA Championship. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Likes of Mayo, Kerry and Tyrone fully aware Dublin now without a proven serial winner

 Offaly fans stage a sit-down protest on the pitch after referee Jimmy Cooney mistakenly ended the game three minutes before full time. Photograph: James Meehan/Inpho

Protest at HQ became defining image of a dramatic summer when Offaly hurling was ablaze

Sideline Cut: Making PE a Leaving Cert subject is just a start. Sports must be central

The legion of GAA men who left for the Western Front have remained invisible until now

Paul Pogba: he  has in interviews breezily suggested that the public should forget about the record transfer fee. It doesn’t work like that. Photograph: Getty Images

Always a sense United wanted Pogba on the books without quite knowing why

A band leads the parade preceding a New York v Galway clash in Gaelic Park. Photograph: Peter Marney/Inpho

New York set to upgrade iconic Gaelic Park's facilities as they grapple with new era

 Juventus goalkeeper  Gianluigi Buffon confronts referee Michael Oliver before being sent off during the dramatic quarter final against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Photograph: Susana Vera/Inpho

Character assassination of referee Oliver in the game’s aftermath totally uncalled for

Peter Ryan: “I am way more independent and it sounds strange but I am happier in my own skin now.” Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

‘Legally blind’; ‘former minor’; ‘alcoholic’: Tipp man shed the tags and took on cycling

 Dublin City Council’s banner  on the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

The city should look for ways to properly mark the achievements of Jim Gavin’s team

Supporters hold up a flag at the Ireland v Italy Six Nations match in Dublin last month. Photograph: Tom Honan

Belfast trial highlighted a culture which is part of a long inglorious tradition in sport

Damien Comer: “It’s great, you get the play the All-Ireland champions in their own patch. We know they are going to be coming at us hot and heavy.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczos/Inpho

Swashbuckling forward aiming to captain Galway to their first league title since 1981

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea is delighted with the performances of the squad’s younger players. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Aidan O’Shea says with logistics and injuries it’s always difficult in the league for Mayo

Mayo’s Kevin McLoughlin scores the point to tie the game against Donegal in the Allianz Football League Division  One game at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Kevin McLoughlin’s 74th-minute point keeps Mayo in top flight for another year

Jamie Healsip’s digital platform/venture,  the Sports Chronicle, promises to “change the way Irish athletes communicate”.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Athletes will have to ask themselves the hard questions for new forum to retain its interest

Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea battle for possession  in last year’s league clash in Castlebar . Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho

Mayo will forfeit top-flight status if they lose to Donegal in their Ballybofey stronghold

A scuffle breaks out on the pitch between Galway and Dublin players. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Strong wind makes for game of two halves in heated top of table affair at Pearse Stadium

Séan O’Shea of Kerry and Dublin’s Michael Darragh at Croke Park last Saturday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

GAA football previews: Kerry need reassurance after Dublin defeat; Cork eye promotion

Field of dreams: Jonathan Sexton takes a kick at Twickenham on Friday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Keith Duggan: Ireland’s push for the Six Nations grand slam is a touch unsettling

Corofin line out for their semi-final win against Moorefield in the  All-Ireland Senior Football Club Championship semi-final at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in Tullamore, Co Offaly, in February. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

North Galway side come full circle as they face Nemo Rangers in All-Ireland club final

Limerick’s Cian Lynch gets away from Galway’s Jack Grealish during the Division 1B league clash at Salthill. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Midfielder says county will relish new challenges after vital win seals promotion

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes jinks past Galways’s Conor Whelan and Johnny Coen. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Galway boss Micheál Donoghue says Shannonsiders ‘had more desire than our boys’

Ireland and Wales teams line up before the Six Nations Championship match at the  Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Inpho

Rugby – or specifically the Irish rugby team – has become a national pastime

Tipperary Michael Quinlivan in action against Louth’s Patrick Reilly during last year’s Division Three final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Premier County could be competing in the top flight in both football and hurling next season

TJ Reid: was in fine scoring form against Tipperary and will prove a real threat to Wexford’s defence at Nowlan Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kilkenny eager to stem the tide of a resurgent Wexford

Arsene Wenger: all  the other so-called contenders have tried to live with City’s version of enlightened management and furious spending. And all have been found wanting. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Sideline Cut: Consecutive defeats to runaway league leaders a wrong reason for his exit

 Galway manager Kevin Walsh: ”What you are asking is about style or system. And you are right: it doesn’t bother me what people say about it.” Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

Galway’s league form is making Walsh’s side very hard to ignore in the football league

 Gianluigi Buffon: comes across as an engaging figure in the Netflix series ‘First Team’  –  which chronicles  a season in the life of the famous Italian club. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

‘First Team’ – a Netflix series on Juventus – little more than a glossy ad for the club

Barry McHugh of Galway scores against Mayo at Pearse Stadium in Galway earlier this month. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

They have a knack of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – and vice versa

Paul Ferris scores Newcastle United’s second goal against Bradford City in a  3 -1 victory over Bradford,  September 26th, 1984. Photograph:  by Staff/NCJ Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Ferris is a trusted confidante in the years when Newcastle and English football began the transformation from the rigorously paroc(...)

Waterford’s Barry Coughlan challenges Walter Walsh of Kilkenny during their Division 1A clash on Sunday. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Meanwhile, Waterford will be slow to get going; Monaghan hold Indian sign over Kerry

 Clare’s goalkeeper Donal Tuohy saves a goal attempt from Seamus Harnedy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Rampant first-half performance enough to see off Rebels in Ennis

Loyalty to place: among of the few things that do bring at least some young people back home are sport and team. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Struggle to field GAA teams west of the Shannon an example of slow death of ‘rural Ireland’

Bernard Brogan: his experience and guile invaluable  when Dublin  need a forward whose brilliance lies in turning a match on nothing moments. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

For all their strength in depth, champions may miss a finisher of his proven class

Mayo’s David Clarke with Galway captain Damien Comer  in the Allianz Football League Division One match at Pearse Stadium, Galway on Sunday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Full-forward leads Galway to substantial league win over Mayo on Sunday

Mayo’s David Clarke tackles Damien Comer of Galway. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Both O’Connor brothers see red for Mayo as Paul Conroy is sent off for Galway at Salthill

North Korean cheerleaders await the start of the opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Photograph: Jorge Silva/Reuters

Sports and stories a kind of front for diplomatic shadow dance in the background

Galway captain Kieran Fitzgerald leads his team out to face Mayo in the Connacht SFC final of 2007.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Former manager John O’Mahony calls it ‘A fierce rivalry but with great respect’

Mayo’s Brendan Harrison attempts to get to grips with Kerry’s Paul Geaney on Saturday night in McHale Park. Photograph: Inpho/John McVitty

Introducing new talent and strengthening squad is Kerry manager’s priority

Mayo’s Shane Nally in action against  Kerry’s Paul Geaney and Sean O’Shea during Kerry hard-fought 1-15 to  2-09 victory. Photograph: John McVitty/Inpho

Manager says side ‘showed good discipline in last 10 minutes in particular to see it out’

 Mayo’s Eoin O’Donoghue and Kerry’s Shane Enright scuffle. Photograph; John McVitty/Inpho

Positive, impudent and fearless - Kingdom’s young guns shoot down venerable Mayo

Glory days: Jean-Pierre Rives during France’s Five Nations rugby match against Ireland in 1984. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty

Sideline Cut: Keith Duggan on the magical inventiveness of French rugby in the 1980s

Donegal’s Odhrán Mac Niallais. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Allianz League football preview: Mayo’s boys of summer set to dazzle against Kerry

Tiernan McCann: “Next week is going to be a different ball game altogether. So we are going to have to refocus. And it is going to take a massive effort.”  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Chastening defeat to Galway has already already upped the ante for Mickey Harte’s men

Galway and Tyrone players scuffle suring the Allianz  League Division One game at  Tuam Stadium. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Newcomer's skipper Damien Comer sets the tone with goal after 22 seconds in Tuam

Mark E Smith: The Fall’s unyielding frontman and the great contrarian of England’s music. Photograph: Kevin Cummins/Getty

The Fall frontman, who died this week, was an avid Manchester City fan and contrarian

 Jason Killeen (left): Trying to co-ordinate a national programme and commit to Superleague basketball with Templeogue is as demanding as anything he has done in the game.  Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Templeogue player knows what it takes after brushing shoulders with basketball greats

Mickey Harte: “I don’t know does anyone really listen authentically to what people like him [Brolly] say.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

‘The barking dog won’t bite you because he is just barking all the time’

Harte on Tyrone 2018: “Maybe it’s a question of judging this generation on what they have achieved and not what they have failed to achieved.”

Long-serving manager talks about the good and bad times and shaping his mark III Tyrone team

Cathal Cregg has returned for early season training after missing last year’s championship. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Sleeping giants Cork need to wake up as Roscommon seek a return to the top

The Hawthorns: Cyrille Regis at the West Bromwich Albion ground in 1984. Photograph: David Cannon/Allsport/Getty

Sideline Cut: The late footballer’s importance far transcends mere goals and caps

Martin O’Neill with FAI CEO John Delaney. Both sides should decide if the current relationship is to continue. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Current limbo concerning the manager of the national team wholly untenable

 Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the  New York City Marathon in  Brooklyn. Photograph:  Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Your heart is pure and you’re fired with good intentions: this is going to be the year

Floyd Mayweather  lands a punch against Conor McGregor during the 10th round of their fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in  August. Photograph: Bridget Bennett/The New York Times

Keith Duggan looks back at the year through the lens of a day in July

If there was an abiding image of the final it was of Connolly, supposedly the hot-head, getting up from the ground and gesturing to his team-mates to relax, that everything was under control. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rivals Mayo, Tyrone and Kerry must hunker down again and plan to stem the blue tide

 Aly  Raisman (R) of the United States is congratulated by Simone Biles (L) after competing on the Women’s Floor final  at the  2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

Ex-US Olympic gymnast suffered gravely at the hands of ‘decorated’ team doctor Larry Nassar

Tiger Woods  walks off of the 18th green after his return to competitive action during the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas. Photograph:  Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Is the multiple-Major winner really about to produce the unlikeliest of second comings?

Mona McSharry in training at Ballyshannon Leisure Centre, Co Donegal. Photograph: James Connolly

All those early mornings in the pool are paying off for Sligo’s world junior champion

Corofin players celebrate their Connacht senior club football championship final win over Castlebar Mitchels at Tuam Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Hard-earned win over Castlebar will steel Connacht champions for All-Ireland series

Aidan O’Reilly of Nemo Rangers lifts the trophy at Páirc Uí Rinn after his team defeated All-Ireland club champions Dr Crokes to win the Munster SFC  final.  Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Sun shines on Cork football as Killarney side carved open in impressive Nemo dispay

Corofin players celebrate after winning the Connacht final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Despite being outplayed for long periods, the Mayo champions gave everything to force ET

Nobody wants to think about politicians in December, let alone have them materialise at their front doors on those evenings when the plum puddings are in the oven.

Politicians will be lucky to escape with their scalps if they darken people’s doorsteps

Dublin’s Noelle Healy and Lydsey Davey celebrate at the final whistle after the victory over Mayo in the  All-Ireland final  at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Inspirational story of Dublin’s quest for All-Ireland glory this year a tale well told

Those in the smaller crowd on Tuesday night, the one that stayed to see the wrecked Irish players leave the field, can at least say: I was there, all the way. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

O’Neill’s side fell apart – and that is why it was vital supporters remained part of the crowd

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill during the second leg against Denmark. Photograph: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Ireland manager hopes players will ‘come back and fight’ but says some likely to retire

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