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Gibson-Park a 10 year overnight success; Raid rise of women’s boxing

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

12pm today. That’s when we’ll find out who will be lining out for Leinster as they look to claim a fifth European crown, as well as who Ronan O’Gara will send out to try and stop them for La Rochelle. Gerry Thornley is our man in Marseille, and he reports that James Lowe and Tadhg Furlong will be given every opportunity to prove their fitness after picking up niggles in the semi-final nearly a fortnight ago. One man who certainly is fit is Jamison Gibson-Park. Prior to this season, his sixth with Leinster, he’d only started five Champions Cup games. The other 24 had been off the bench. Yet all of a sudden, he has become Leinster’s main man in the nine shirt this season. One interested onlooker on Saturday will be James McCourt, a cousin of Garry Ringrose who has just signed for the LA Chargers in the NFL. The Dublin-born kicker has been outlining his experiences a few weeks into his rookie career.

“I‘d say I was down in that stream 10 or 11 times across that week. Away from it, I was in a moon boot every day. I wasn’t really training in between the two games. But it worked. I played the game and didn’t even have to have an injection to get through it.” Joe Canning’s column today talks about the lengths players will go to for mental edges in their performance. Be it with injuries or preparation, he tells a story of players that will do anything to get themselves into the right frame of mind for a game, including standing in a river all week. Ahead of the Leinster women’s final this weekend, Dublin joint-captain Niamh Collins has been speaking about her county’s rivalry with Meath.

Ten years ago, there was just Katie Taylor. Now Ireland has four Olympic and world champion boxers on the women’s side. Following the gold medals of Lisa O’Rourke and Amy Broadhurst at last week’s World Championships, Johnny Watterson charts the rise of Irish women’s boxing: “Bearing in mind the Irish men’s team are currently competing in Armenia at the European Championships and several of them are in a position to win a medal, in less than ten years women’s boxing has supplanted men’s boxing as the most successful branch of the sport in Ireland.”

Acknowledging elite or high-performance level sports coaching as a profession has been neglected and a lot more needs to be done, according to Lisa Fallon this morning. Ireland has thrived on the incredibly valuable currency of coaches/managers who give their time voluntarily in sport, but a distinction now needs to be made to create a pathway for those who want to become elite, professional coaches in order to safeguard the success of our athletes.