Declan Rice: “As you can hear, I am English. It was really good playing for Ireland. Now I’m just looking forward to the future and putting on an English shirt.” Photograph:    Martin Rickett/PA

Young man’s decision is entirely rational and Irish football shouldn’t appear so desperate

Mayo’s Robert Hennelly against Dublin. Morgan Treacy/INPHO

James Horan enjoys the luxury of having two top-class goalkeepers in his panel

Tralee Warriors’ head coach Pat Price: “I think Irish basketball is comfortable in its own skin. We know what the numbers are on the ground.”  Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Tralee Warriors and UCD will square off in back-to-back games in 24 hours on the closing weekend of the season

Those lucky enough to be in the Millennium Stadium instinctively know that they are participating in one of the enduring rites of passage in their country: Wales in a spring-time Six Nations game with everything on the line. Photograph: Getty Images

Fear CVC simply wants money is like worrying that a shark simply wants to move and eat

Corofin’s Ciaran McGrath and Micheal Lundy  after defeating  Nemo Rangers of Cork  in the 2018 club final in Croke Park.   Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

The prolonged success of the defending All-Ireland club champions is based on youth

Stephen O’Hanlon: has been a bright spot for Monaghan throughout a series of tough results since the opening win over Dublin. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty /Inpho

Monaghan bidding to halt the slide in relegation four-pointer against Cavan

Philippe Saint-André of France about to score a try during the last match of the Five Nations tournament at Twickenham in March 1991. England won the match 21-19. Photograph: Simon Bruty/Getty Images

Ireland are as reliable as the Revenue, but there could be a burst of French spontaneity

Offaly line up for the Allianz  League clash against Laois in O’Moore Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Offaly face a huge relegation playoff against Carlow as they bid to halt a stark decline

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan with Ronan Daly of Roscommon during the Allianz Football League Division One clash in Roscommon. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side were made to work hard for this victory which came in the heavy rain

Dublin’s Ciarán Whelan and Pádraic Flynn of Leitrim in their  All-Ireland football qualifier round two match in July 2004. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Fifteen years ago, Dublin did not seem to be the unbeatable monolith they have become

Pat Horgan: In the years since making his debut since 2008, he has been a constant leader in  in red for Cork through days good and bad. Photograph: Ryan  Byrene/Inpho

Cork’s all-time top scorer in championship hurling has long been a model of consistency

Galway’s Eoghan Kerin and Tommy Walsh of Kerry exchange words during their Allianz Football League Division 1 match at  Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Kingdom prodigy – now aged 30 – is glad to be back after a three-year absence

Galway’s Ciaran Duggan with Mark Griffin and Sean O’Shea of Kerry during their Allianz League Division One encounter. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Kingdom put in huge effort to see off Galway in Tuam and maintain 100 per cent record

 Aaron Gillane is on Fitzgibbon Cup duty with Mary Immaculate College against UCC and will be rested for Limerick’s game against Cork on Sunday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipperary and Kilkenny both in need of a positive result in Thurles showdown

Michael Ryan, Liam Sheedy and Eamon O’Shea lift the Liam McCarthy Cup after the All-Ireland final victory over Kilkenny in 2010 which denied the Cats a famed five-in-a-row. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Empathetic insights of players’ man will add further ballast to Premier coaching ticket

A victory would exceed any of the glorious days Ole Gunnar Solskjaer  enjoyed at Old Trafford as a player.

Scupper the Scousers and the job could be his, defeat by them and it’s not so certain

Galway’s Sean Bleahene and Darragh O’Connell of Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

After the minor shock of a draw in Carlow, Galway bossed this division 1B encounter

John Morrison opened the gates to alternative approaches and thinking. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

He was an evangelist, indifferent to the mainstream, charismatic and confident

Gweedore’s Peter McGee, Niall Friel and Christopher McFadden celebrate at the final whistle against Scotstown in the Ulster final. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The Donegal club’s rise this season has gone hand in hand with personal tragedies

Tyrone win the contested hop ball that was an initally given as a free-in to Roscommon. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho

The hosts had a tap-over winner changed to a throw-in for a retaliation in injury time

Ireland’s James Ryan and Conor Murray after the defeat  to England at the Aviva. Photograph: Tom Honan

‘I knew we were f****d the minute I heard them talking about a ‘double Grand Slam’ on Marian’

Séamus O’Rourke starring in the Quare Land. Photo: Leitrim Observer

Playwright and actor discusses how his homeland and its GAA is so central to his life

Shane  Golden’s return to full fitness will add another dimension to Clare in the championship. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Sixmilebridge man impresses at midfield in victory over Kilkenny

Clare’s John Conlon scored 1-1 against Kilkenny. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Kevin Kelly punished a succession of untidy defensive fouls to keep his team in the contest

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady  at the Superbowl media centre  in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 31st, 2019.  Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

‘Afterthought’ in the 2000 NFL draft has gone on to dominate and become an icon

Monaghan’s Conor McManus celebrates after the opening league win over Dublin at Clones. Photograph: Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

‘It is going to be the one rule that takes away the possession mentality’ says Louth boss Wayne Kierans

Cork’s Conor Lehane following the defeat to Kilkenny at Nowlan Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Some of the failings that proved costly in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final still evident

Roscommon’s Donie Smith clashes with Mayo’s Keith Higgins during the Allianz Football League Division One match at   Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Eye gouging incident mars competitive clash played out in atrocious conditions

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea claims the ball during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at  Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

James Horan’s side secure one-point win over Roscommon in foul conditions

It wouldn’t take all that much effort for Jim Gavin’s  vital personal organiser to be “mislaid”. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Get rid of the blow-ins and make Jack McCaffrey run to Tyrone and Mayo

Peter Keane takes over as Kerry manager hoping to restore that winning feeling to the county. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Prospects of a Dublin five-in-a-row loom large over Kerry where winning is everything

Pádraig Walsh: some in Kilkenny believe the versatile defender would be better suited to a half-back role. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Will Cody release Pádraig Walsh and hold fresh auditions for pivotal No 3 jersey?

Brian Hogan: Tipperary goalkeeper turned up  at the media event for the launch of the Higher Education Championships but would not address any questions concerning Tipperary hurling. Photograph: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Keith Duggan: Gagging of players will ensure other sports inevitably fill the resulting void

 Séamus Killough, Liam Boyle, Gerry McCann, and Andy McCallin of the Antrim Under-21 team who won the 1969 All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship pictured at Casement Park in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney

A half-century on, Keith Duggan talks to the men who won the All-Ireland U-21 football title as the Troubles took hold

Andy Murray:  played  professional tennis as though it was a form of torture through which he has no choice but to subject himself.  Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Sideline Cut: Injury-enforced retirement imminent for Scot who gave all he had to tennis

Reliable corner back ready to focus on new priorities after 14 years of consistent service

2018 Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup Semi-Final, Lee Valley Stadium, London, England 4/8/2018Spain vs IrelandIreland celebrate winning the shoot outMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Sandra Mailer

Feelgood stories of smalltown success went shoulder to shoulder with the darker side of sport

Croatia’s Luka Modric  scores his team’s second  during their Group D match with  Argentina  at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Photograph:  Clive Mason/Getty

The shock of a 3-0 defeat to Croatia in Nizhny led to World Cup misery

Seán Mannion at the Mike Flaherty Boxing Club, Ros Muc. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Rónán Mac Con Iomaire’s eye-witness account of the last years of Irish-Dorchester from one of its most celebrated sons

Katie Taylor. The recent documentary about her is a reminder of how long she has been excelling and how her standards have never dropped. Photograph: Emily Harney/Inpho.

Sideline Cut: Bray fighter is a fitting successor to trailblazers like Jackie Tonawanda

The Connacht and Perpignan pack engage in the miserable conditions at the Sportsground during their European Challenge Cup match on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Province make it four wins in a row following hard-fought victory in torrential conditions

Bundee Aki during Connacht’s win over Perpignan in Galway. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Andy Friend’s side see off Perpignan and the weather to notch up fourth-straight victory

  It’s hard to measure the sense of local pride and energy generated by Mullinalaghta’s  success. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Tiny Longford club will face a huge task in their clash with Kilmacud Crokes on Sunday

Dublin chair John Costello advocates the idea of the Government working with sporting organisations – not just the GAA – to try and make some of the Nama-held sites available at a reasonable cost. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

County chair right to identify the importance of green spaces in a city under huge strain

Jim McGuinness has been named head coach of USL side Charlotte Independence on a three-year contract. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Former Donegal GAA manager signs three-year deal with second-tier North Carolina team

Ghaoth Dobhair Kevin Cassidy and Eamonn McGee with Frank Caulfield of Scotstown in Sunday’s Ulster senior football championship final in Healy Park, Omagh. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Ulster final winners put decade of underperformance behind them

Gaoth Dobhair’s Kevin Cassidy is tackled by Scotstown’s Emmet Caulfield during the Ulster club football final at Healy Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Substitute Shane Ferry’s late point in extra-time helps Donegal club pip Scotstown

Gweedore’s Kevin Cassidy  celebrates scoring against  Crossmaglen in  the  Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final at Healy Park, Co Tyrone. Photograph: Declan Roughan/Inpho

Gaeltacht club’s revival could culminate in a first Ulster title for any Donegal club

Newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy alongside FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Gary Carr/Inpho

Perennial struggles of domestic game a major blot on chief executive’s record

 GAA headquarters Croke Park. Rule changes mean sideline balls can only be kicked forward rather than laterally or towards a team’s own goal

“Referees must have a degree in applied mathematics,” according to Eamon McGee

Republic of Ireland’s Andy Townsend in action against Belgium in November 1997. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Sideline Cut: On a night in November 1997, two Ireland teams set off on wildly different paths

 Portlaoise manager Malachy McNulty: “The dream is to bring this team all the way.”Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Portlaoise manager on taking the reins at club and the importance of a balanced team

Martin O’Neill: delivered some early success but things went rapidly downhill after the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark last year. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty

Even the appointment of a respected coach won’t cure game’s deep-rooted problems

The All Blacks’ Kieran Read receives medical treatment after 35 minutes against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. The aristocrats knew by then the scale of the battle they faced. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

The crowd got louder and fiercer as a thunderous encounter unfolded at the Aviva Stadium

 TJ Perenara leads New Zealand in the haka ahead of the auyumn international against Ireland at the Aviva stadium. Photograph:  Phil Walter/Getty Images

First 35 minutes was key as Ireland came out and tore into the All Blacks from the off

Bundee Aki: will be the focus of special attention  when Ireland take on the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Focused world champions will have Auckland-born Connacht star firmly in their sights

Ireland captain Willie Anderson faces up to New Zealand captain Wayne Shelford as the All Blacks preform the Haka at Lansdowne Road in 1989. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland and the All Blacks through the years: Anderson’s famous stance well remembered

Christian Cullen: brought a new dimension to the the traditional role of fullback in an outstanding All Blacks side. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Ireland and the All Blacks through the years: Heavy defeat in 1997 heralded dark period

ew Zealand scrum-half Sid Going gets in his kick despite the attentions of Sean Lynch and Fergus Slattery (Ireland), watched by Ian Kirkpatrick (New Zealand) and Terry Moore (Ireland) during the 1973 clash at Lansdowne Road. Photo: Dermot O’Shea/The Irish Times

Ireland and the All Blacks through the years: Barry McCann’s kick put into perspective in 1973

The New Zealand All Blacks, the first rugby team to undertake a tour outside of Australasia, who became known as ‘the originals’ when they toured Britain, France and the United States in 1905-06. Back row (left-right): Gillett, Casey, McGregor, McDonald, Roberts. Next row, standing: Harper, O’Sullivan, Seeling, Deans, Johnston, Nicholson, Corbett, Cunningham, Newton, Duncan (coach). Seated: Abbott, Wallace, Tyler, Gallagher (captain), Dixon (manager), Stead, Mackrell, Glasgow, Glenn. Seated on ground: Hunter, Mynott, Smith, Booth and Thomson. Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Ireland and the All Blacks through the years: Little known force changed the face of rugby

New Zealand on the attack during their  6-5 win over Ireland in 1963.

Ireland and the All Blacks through the years: Low scoring affair in 1963 almost brought a win

Chris Henry in action for Ulster against Connacht in the 2017 Pro14. Photograph: Inpho

Chris Henry’s retirement causes brief pause for reflection ahead of glamorous autumn Tests

Aidan Harris Lgiehon in Dublin in August 2017. Photograph: Tom Honan.

Aidan Harris Igiehon is on the cusp of joining basketball’s NBA elite

Crossmaglen stalwarts John McEntee and Oisín McConville. Photograph: Declan Roughan/Presseye/Inpho

The mid-Ulster marvels are part of the autumnal furniture of Gaelic games

“For the majority, this guy seemed to speak a common person’s language,” says Independent Cllr Shaun Cunniffe of Peter Casey. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Peter Casey gained traction in Galway East – were his Traveller remarks a big factor?

Laois captain Ross King received a serious facial injury playing for his club Rathdowney-Erril against Camross earlier this month. Photograph: Paul Dargan

Club games offer very best of GAA culture, but occasionally rivalry becomes poisoned

Cora Staunton: “We wanted the LGFA and the Mayo County Board to investigate these [issues]. I am not going to speak for girls who have very difficult experiences. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

‘Game Changer’ is a story of sporting excellence set against family bereavement

US athletes Tommie Smith (c) and John Carlos (r) raising their gloved fists to protest against  racism in the US on the podium in  the Mexico Olympic Games,  October 16th, 1968. Photograph: Getty

Tommie Smith and John Carlos saw their lives altered by the gestures but what is the legacy?

 Ireland players dejected at the final whistle of the  Uefa Nations League at the  Aviva stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Harry Wilson’s strike seemed symbolic of diverging paths for Ireland and Wales

Mayo football manager James Horan at the GAA media event in the  Greenway Cafe, Lough Lannagh, Co Mayo. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

New football manager James Horan to lead senior team’s hot pursuit of All-Ireland in 2019

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The old togetherness and giant-killing triumphs already seem a very long time ago

Jose Mourhinho: boasts an enviable record of several league titles won in four  countries – the last one with Chelsea as recently as 2015. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Special One looks likely to join the list of men unable to revive the club’s fortunes

Five new proposals could change the face of football. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Standing committee will discuss the five proposals with one limiting handpassing

Leinster’s Sean Cronin scores his side’s second try despite the efforts of Connacht’s Paul Boyle and Kieran Marmion at the Sportsground in Galway. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Visitors prove a different proposition to the side that shipped 47 points on last visit West

Leinster’s Seán Cronin celebrates scoring his side’s second try during the  Guinness Pro 14 game against Connacht at  The Sportsground. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tries from Garry Ringrose and Seán Cronin and Connacht red card helps champions pull clear

Sportswriter James Lawton: ‘He seemed to travel to everything – the golf Majors, the teeming football derbies, England’s cricket glories and debacles and the fights, always the fights’

Writer who has died aged 75 was able to bottle the temporary magic that is live sport

Cuala celebrating last March after winning the  All-Ireland club senior hurling championship in  O’Moore Park,  Laois, against  Na Piarsaigh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Division four teams make up a quarter of all intercounty sides yet continually have to fight against the sense they are irrelevant

JP McManus has gifted €100,000 to each county board to be shared out between clubs. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

There are GAA people out there who will want nothing to do with the billionaire’s money

Tyrone’s manager Mickey Harte and Kevin McStay, manager of Roscommon at the All-Ireland senior championship quarter-final. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Era of long-term inter-county manager has passed due to the growing demands

  Khabib Nurmagomedov  and  Conor McGregor during their  UFC  press conference at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Photograph:  Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Irish fighter’s verbal energy seems to be locked into a shrinking worldview

Whether Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane stay or leave won’t change the realities of football in Ireland.   Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The age of the big persona leading limited Ireland to improbable glory has passed

Ciarán Kilkenny: Dublin’s playmaker has been nominated for the Footballer of the Year award.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Total of 11 counties represented but not a single player from Mayo or Roscommon

Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy celebrates a goal in the 2014 All-Ireland final victory over Donegal at Croke Park.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Star’s easy-going nature off the pitch belied a fiercely ambitious competitive streak on it

Ireland assistant manager, Roy Keane, speaks with Martin O’Neill during the Nations League defeat to Wales. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Rift with Harry Arter and Jon Walters come across as a bit lame given they were friendlies

Dublin’s Philly McMahon lifts the Sam Maguire in front of Hill 16. “Why would we not want to win an All-Ireland? Why would we not want to win six or seven?” Tyrone. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Gavin’s side absorbed Tyrone’s very best in the first quarter – then duly took control

Dublin fans celebrate as their team defeat Tyrone at Croke Park to make it four All-Irelands in a row.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tyrone left chasing shadows as Jim Gavin’s men poised to chase mythical five-in-a-row

Niall Scully celebrates scoring Dublin’s second goal in their All-Ireland final win over Tyrone. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side defend All-Ireland title at a canter as all roads now lead to number five

Mickey Harte is exactly the man to work out a plan to beat Dublin. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

No one is giving Tyrone a prayer but that’s exactly the reason they can do as they please

Tyrone celebrate Niall Sludden’s late goal which proved pivotal in the semi-final defeat of Monaghan at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Surrounded by close football rivals, the county remains unloved – North and South

A woman attends a vigil at the site of the Tuam babies graveyard where the bodies of 796 babies where uncovered at a site of a former  home for unmarried mothers and their children in Tuam. Co Galway. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Names of 796 infants buried in Tuam read aloud at site of former Mother and Baby home

Galway’s Cathal Mannion and Dan Morrissey of Limerick in action during the All-Ireland final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Keith Duggan: Or will it always be the same eight-nine counties at the banquet?

Limerick’s Shane Dowling celebrates scoring his side’s third goal in the  All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Shrewd guidance of John Kiely ensured this young team shook off baggage of the past

Limerick’s Cian Lynch and Pat Ryan celebrate. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Keith Duggan: Final minutes reminded the world of hurling’s mysterious powers

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes collides in the air with Galway’s Joe Canning during the All-Ireland SHC Final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Keith Duggan looks at the key incidents as Limerick ended a 45-year wait for glory

Joe Canning after the victory over Clare in Thurles. “We had a lot of doubters outside our group, even in our home county. It’s just great that we could quieten a few today.”  Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Long years of frustration ensure Tribesmen feel they have unfinished business to attend to

Galway goalkeeper Michael Connelly blocks the ball to keep the Limerick attack at bay during the 1980 All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Victory over Limerick signalled Galway’s arrival as an enduring hurling force

Galway captain David Burke lifts the Liam McCarthy Cup alongside minor captain Darren Morrissey with the Irish Press Cup at Galway’s triumphant homecoming in Ballinasloe last September. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Streamlined approach at national school and underage level yielding desired results

Cian O’Sullivan of Dublin and Damien Comer of Galway. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

No clouds in Dubs’ blue sky as hungry reigning champions look untouchable

Tyrone’s Peter Harte and Matthew Donnelly celebrate at the final whistle. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cruel Tyrone goal late on in tight affair leaves Monaghan in mood of bitter reflection

Ironically the highly-paid controversialist had way more to give than acerbic one-liners

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